Someone in your office will have to wear this hat as you prepare your Content Marketing strategy for 2013
Brand Journalism is the solution to your content creation woes in 2013. Brand journalism gained momentum last year as the content consumption habits of an online public lost the taste for advertorials attempting to take the place of real stories about a product, service, or industry. Brands scrambled to find ways to publish content about their brand without resorting to traditional paid online ads – something that was, and is, losing its effectiveness in engaging consumers. A few savvy businesses with an arsenal of content creators started resorting to, God forbid, actual journalism. McDonald’s, who’s CMO Larry Light coined the phrase, has seen great success over the last few years by adopting this philosophy.
Brand journalism, while related to a business, is still rooted in story. To be effective it must communicate timely, factual and transparent consumer driven information about your brand through a variety of media channels all the while telling a story in an engaging manner and encouraging feedback from the “reader”. If journalism reports on the world as a whole, brand journalism makes your business the world and with that you can better understand how to proceed with creating content for this new concept.
It may seem to Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs) that brand journalism only applies to big corporations that have both the means and expansive day to day operations to embark upon such a content driven campaign but in fact any mom & pop shop with an online presence can benefit from the philosophy. SMBs can even draw upon more personal experiences for brand stories which may otherwise be frowned upon for big business.
Since brand journalism borrows from traditional journalism, I thought I’d break down a few typical newspaper/broadcast segments that will help you identify where the story is for your business on any given day. They won’t all be headlines but each one will appeal to your customers in some manner and will ultimately serve to build a persona for your brand better than any pay-per-click campaign. All you need to get started is a website, blog, social network, and someone to create the content.
5 Examples of Where to Find Stories for Your Website’s Brand Journalism Strategy:
The familiar “editorial” is a contribution from the voice of the brand, the one to introduce a new release and respond to feedback from the public. The editor in a brand journalism scenario will commonly post on your website’s weekly blog. It doesn’t have to be the owner or CEO but it should be someone with a way with words and an engaging online personality. Posts can relate to important news about the industry (if any occurred that day) or simply a quick fun anecdote of interest to consumers.
Headline news for your brand should be shared on all channels. The content will be placed on your website’s homepage, blog, off-site blogs, and social networks. It should encompass a variety of media: text, pictures, and video. Headline worthy stories include new and dramatic industry events that relate to your business, company awards/accreditations, office relocations, management changes, and the like. Even negative press (if any) about your business should be addressed by your business upfront and in the public eye – better the public hear the response from you than elsewhere. Just be sure to respond in a timely manner and resolve the issue. Keep in mind that there won’t always be a headline so don’t force it. If it doesn’t feel like a headline, it’s not.
For SMBs there is rarely a headline worthy note to make about your business every day. This is where you can borrow from the “Lifestyle” segment concept. You’re giving your brand personality here so have fun. Instead of socialites and celebrities your staff or even regular (and willingly participating) customers serve as the fodder. Did your company’s founder have a milestone birthday? Did your small accounting office hold a holiday party recently? Did someone on the team have a baby? Take pictures, add some text, and tell the public about it on your social networks under a “Our Corporate Culture” category.
If you have a physical location and/or service area then you have a community. Are you currently involved in community initiatives in any way? If so, that’s your story. Is there is any interesting news in the community? Provide a response from your company on the matter and communicate this on your blog and social networks. People support businesses that support their own community.
Seriously? Sure, why not? Weather impacts many businesses and thus gives those that are (impacted) something to talk about from a brand voice. Retailers attribute certain sales patterns to rainy days. Travel Agencies are directly impacted by seasons. The list goes on. Real Estate offices in unique climates, as an example, can use the “weather story” to showcase how they provide tips to new homeowners on how to weatherproof their home. Identify how the weather “segment” may impact your business and create part of your brand story around that.
These are just some of the typical “news” segments you can look at to find ways to develop content for brand journalism strategy. Find segments that are analogous to your business’ corporate culture and proceed to create consumer driven content with that in mind. Today’s sophisticated public wants to know more about your brand, sometimes more so than the product (which may not require much explanation) you sell. Brands that are more transparent will gain their trust and loyalty. Stop the press on traditional paid advertorials and let real content about your brand communicate to the public.