What exactly is brand journalism?

22/Nov/2015 · 2 MINS READ

Brand journalism has been causing a stir in the content marketing world lately – and considering we’ve shaped our business around it, it only makes sense to try and iron out what exactly brand journalism means to us.

Let’s start by identifying what exactly brand journalism isn’t trying to be…

SEO: While any good writer knows how to incorporate simple SEO principles, brand journalism isn’t about filling copy with keywords. Instead it’s about creating content that entertains, inspires or educates. It is content that is geared towards the consumer, not the search engines.

Copywriting: This is a term that is often thrown around quite loosely but essentially a copywriter is someone who writes copy for advertising or promotional material. While it’s arguable that brand journalists are writing for a brand, it’s not designed to be advertising material. There’s no product pushing or gushing over how “XYZ will help you lose weight”. No sir. It’s helpful not hype-ful.

Content marketing: Brand journalism is often confused with content marketing and it’s understandable. However, content marketing is an all-encompassing approach to the creation and marketing of content. Brand journalism sits at the core of that – it is the creation of content with the audience in mind. I’ve spoken about this a little more in depth here.

PR: This one has irked me ever since my early days in content marketing. PR is different to brand journalism (and content marketing) as its aim is to ‘earn’ media for a business, not create it. It certainly helps feed interest towards owned media but PR works within a very different media scene. It’s a close friend of brand journalism but they’re not family members.

Traditional journalism: The approach is the same but the platform is different. Brand journalists are expected to create stories that an audience desires to read and are expected to speak in a very human and personable way. However, the platform (being that of a brand’s website or publication) is very different and there is some responsibility for a brand journalist to be commercially aware.

Okay, so what exactly is it?

Owned media: Brand journalism is the creation of informative, entertaining or inspiring content for a platform that a business has control over. It gives businesses the opportunity to build a relationship with their audience and speak directly to them. And most importantly, it’s a human way of communicating across these platforms.

Editorial-style content: The development of content that an audience enjoys to read and craves more of. Brand journalism takes the principles of journalistic content creation and applies that to the consumer audience. While a journalist is trained to find a captivating story and know exactly what the audience wants, a brand journalist is doing the same (except for a brand not a news publication).

Storytelling: Creating messages for a brand that go beyond a sales push or product mention. It’s about entertaining, educating or inspiring the audience and helping them content that the audience and offering them something more than ‘just another sales message’.

The push of an idea, not a product: At the heart of brand journalism is the idea of what the brand wants to be and what they want to offer their consumers – from a thought-leadership perspective, not a product perspective.

The beginnings of earned media: Brand journalism gives PRs the opportunity to push a story and give earned media something to talk about. It gives the earned-media scene a story and can help organically build an earned media presence.

Have I missed anything out? Let me know!