Brand Journalism: how to do it in a 5-step guide

In recent times, there has been much talk about brand journalism, both in traditional and digital communication sectors. But what does brand journalism mean? Is it real journalism, or is it a new way of marketing?

Initially, we can define brand journalism as one of the most innovative elements of the media mix, which involves the combined use of various communication channels designed to convey a specific message.

Is corporate journalism an opportunity for the new journalist? Yes, and perhaps you might want to take a look at the Web Marketing Online Course to enter the workforce and immediately gain applicable experience.

Alternatively, you may want to create an expert in your company who can help improve your brand’s online reputation!

Brand Journalism: definition

Precisely, what is brand journalism? It is challenging to pinpoint a precise and unambiguous definition.

The definition of brand journalism is a type of journalism that aims to inform the public about a company’s story using the tools and rules of a professional working in the mass media. It also corresponds to the term corporate journalism.

Doing brand journalism means adhering to the same rules as traditional journalism outlined in the Journalist’s Code of Ethics but within a different framework than the more common one of daily newspapers.

In summary, we can say that brand journalism is the application of journalistic techniques to corporate communication.

So, doing brand journalism is venturing into a kind of journalistic niche that simply explores a new field, created by companies that, increasingly, have decided to tell their stories bypassing the intermediation of the media and traditional information apparatus.

The company, in essence, expands its scope and becomes a publisher. To answer the initial question, the company publisher, through corporate journalism, provides information and does not try to market or sell something.

It is information related to its brand and the economic sector to which it belongs. The role of the brand journalist lies not in selling but in providing information to the reader, who could be the customer of the company they collaborate with.

The evolution of the web has led us to consume informational content online, much of which falls within the realm of information and journalism.

What has been witnessed is a true invasion of the field. Countless entities have started writing and creating editorial content, activities previously exclusive to professionals.

The disintermediation has changed the rules of the game, working in brand journalism brings with it new and unprecedented opportunities, for example.

Communication professionals have been discussing it for a while, and it seems that corporate journalism is destined to revolutionize the way information is presented. Thus, while the crisis in the journalism sector continues, corporate communication is evolving.

Companies are increasingly shifting towards the status of a Media Company or Media News, creating new employment opportunities for journalistic writing professionals and, at the same time, contributing to informing the audience of readers and consumers.

 

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What is the purpose of Brand Journalism?

Why might companies need journalists?

Let’s take a step back. The consumer is not only more distrustful but also more demanding. Moreover, the advertising bombardment has had its time, and today, in the era of the digital revolution, needs have changed.

Consumers have had enough of promotional campaigns and do not want to be interrupted by an obvious sales pitch while reading a newspaper article or consuming editorial content.

When they need information or want to engage in reading, they can find what they need independently. The use of brand journalism lies in meeting this need and turning it into an opportunity.

brand journalism examples

Through editorial activity, the goal is to shift the attention of the reader-consumer from the brand to the news, telling the story, tradition, values, and the entire universe that revolves around the business world.

Everything is done through the dissemination of real, verifiable, and ethically correct news. That’s why it is necessary to be accompanied by competent journalists.

Let’s talk once again about what has probably been the topic of the year, storytelling. Telling stories, and even more so, telling one’s own story has become essential for every company.

It can be done in many ways, and brand journalism activity is an excellent way to do storytelling through the use of journalistic means.

Ancient and prestigious or young and innovative, every company has its own story, made up of concrete experiences that deserve attention.

Through the construction of an editorial identity, Corporate Journalism puts the company’s background and a wealth of stages, experiences, and milestones at the service of everyone. By everyone, we mean consumers, employees, and stakeholders.

Let’s think about a large, perhaps historical, company. Within such a multinational, there is a whole complex of knowledge, both at the engineering and technical levels, but also human.

These are beautiful things to communicate, so why not do it to create knowledge and reveal the more human side of the business?

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If we want to get more practical, another advantage of having a brand journalism strategy, perhaps with a brand magazine, lies in the ability to interact directly and constantly with your audience.

This possibility is particularly useful when there is a need to make a statement about an event, communicate innovations, or respond to a newspaper that has criticized the company or spread incorrect information.

Finally, being present and addressing everything revolving around one’s reference industry allows delivering a useful service to the consumer.

A kind of public service that will make the company be perceived as an authoritative, competent, and credible reference point. Although it is not the primary goal of brand journalism, it should maintain a certain degree of objectivity.

All of this contributes to the increase in sales (a prerogative of content marketing and brand content, with which it is important not to confuse) because it operates on both brand awareness and brand identity.

Brand journalism is among the most effective branding strategies. Even if the company becomes a publisher, its goal is not to profit from articles but from the effects they can generate in its business sphere.

One of the effects is undoubtedly the increase in brand awareness. It is necessary to have updated and aware professional figures.

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How to do brand journalism in 5 steps

How to do brand journalism? Here are 5 fundamental steps for a company: define an editorial line, plan content, and above all, know how to tell the values of the company without falling into self-reference or sales activities.

All of this consciously and with the support of the use of appropriate social networks for the target audience.

1. Define the editorial line

Once a company has decided to become a publisher, with the consequent creation of a magazine, it becomes opportune and fundamental to adopt an editorial line and draft a plan.

This essentially means identifying one or more main topics for the creation of articles and publications, which must necessarily be consistent with the economic sector of belonging, but also with the values, culture, and vision of the brand.

Once the guidelines for creating editorial content are clear, you can start doing brand journalism, with scheduled and planned publications.

Brands that choose to provide information may also opt for the creation of an internal ethical code, in addition to following the rules of the deontological documents provided by the Journalists’ Association.

2. Prepare articles according to the rules of web writing

As specified so far, although it is journalism connected to content marketing to some extent, it remains journalism in every respect.

For this reason, in writing articles, it is important, not to say indispensable, to follow the so-called 5W rule of journalistic style, who, what, when, where, and why.

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3. Tell stories with images and videos

How does a brand communicate? In 2016, visual content definitively surpassed textual content.

Especially in the field of web marketing, there has been a massive use of images and videos to promote products and services. 2017, likewise, was crowned as the year of video marketing.

Today, creating valuable content implies mastering multiple platforms, some of which exclusively require video content to reach the target audience.

how brand communicate

This means that despite brand journalism activities, textual content is still predominant and essential, one cannot think of creating articles without photos and video clips.

We all, every day, consult online newspapers, web magazines, and blogs, and we are all well aware of how images influence our instinct to open a particular article or not.

Therefore, it is easy to understand how important the visual aspect is in the corporate journalism field, in all its different forms of graphics, photography, and video.

This is why it is essential for a brand magazine to not only be interesting to read but also visually appealing.

4. Avoid self-reference and sales activities

As I mentioned earlier, one of the missions of brand journalism is to inform and entertain the reader. It doesn’t matter if it’s a reader-consumer, the focus should always remain more on the word journalism than on the brand.

A company should take advantage of this opportunity to tell its story and the news related to it but in the right way.

It’s wrong to do it all the time, and even more wrong is to publish an article about a product, perhaps with a persuasive call to action and links to e-commerce pages.

Remember, the consumer avoids aggressive advertising and hates being interrupted while consuming content. The purpose of corporate journalism is not to intercept the reader-consumer through an article and then generate leads or conversions.

The journalistic activity for a brand aims to inform the audience without asking for anything in return but by working on brand reputation and the perception that the public will have of the brand.

5. Use social networks to support the magazine brand

It may seem obvious to say, but just like major publishers, web magazines, and news media, for optimal circulation of articles.

It is necessary to consider the use of social media, especially Facebook, as it represents one of the virtual environments where news is consumed the most.

A study by the Pew Research Center in August 2017 showed that the percentage of users who get informed via social media has grown, reaching 67%.

Facebook, with its two billion users, is used today by 68% of Americans, 45% of whom claim to scroll through feeds to find various information.

 

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What is not Corporate Journalism?

Having defined what brand journalism is and how to do it, it is necessary to understand what it is not. Often, the role of the brand journalist and the required professional skills are unclear.

Corporate journalism is not press office

The press office disseminates press releases on behalf of the company. It handles both internal and external communication and is tasked with providing news to the press and media.

In general, ensuring that they publish them, and creating interest around the company and corporate events. How does brand journalism work?

It operates and publishes on its platform, spreading news from there. It primarily targets an audience of readers, who can also be consumers, and not necessarily other newspapers or journalists.

Brand journalism is not corporate storytelling

Corporate storytelling is linked to corporate communication and, through storytelling techniques, creates content to inspire, engage, evoke emotions, and “convince” the consumer.

Corporate journalism, on the other hand, can use storytelling tools but without the more distinctly pursued objectives of content marketing.

Brand journalism is not content marketing

Finally, as mentioned above, corporate journalism is not primarily branded content marketing.

This, in fact, in its definition includes any marketing activity involving the creation and sharing of editorial and multimedia content aimed at facilitating the acquisition of new customers.

The real objective, however, of this marketing practice is in lead generation, i.e., acquiring contacts through forms (email, phone, etc.) for creating lists of potential customers interested in the products or services offered.

The use of brand journalism lies in brand positioning and has no sales or lead generation purposes.

This essentially means creating valuable and useful content for the user, who, through reading, for example, a blog post, is looking for an answer to a question or the resolution of a problem.

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Examples of brand journalism

Why might companies need journalists? This is understood from examples of brand journalism from major brands like Red Bull and Coca-Cola.

The first one has a site that is a magazine dedicated to sports and extreme experiences, with news inspired by the legendary slogan Red Bull gives you wings.

The second, with Coca-Cola Journey, offers very interesting articles and readings channeled into categories such as sports, music, and women, but also collecting and sustainability.

coca cola branding

Corporate journalism is almost exclusively associated with international examples.

Here, I have decided to focus the spotlight on experiments in branded journalism that, echoing experiences like those of Coca-Cola or Red Bull, present themselves as excellent examples.

In a Bottle 

In a Bottle is the first water created by San Pellegrino, a company that has been producing sparkling water since 1899.

Born in 2012, the magazine tells the world and the values of mineral water and, more generally, water as a resource for the world.

Within the pages of In a Bottle Mag, you can find all the messages that a bottle of water carries with it, from articles of scientific depth to well-being tips.

San Pellegrino pursues the mission of ensuring a future of quality for water through projects and brand journalism activities, precisely aimed at its enhancement, protection, and promotion.

Conclusion

All brand journalism strategies combine communication techniques to inform the reader-consumer about the history and values of a company. It goes beyond the press office, corporate storytelling, and content marketing.

These are branding strategies that create awareness and brand identity, satisfying consumer needs by offering valuable content and strengthening the company’s reputation.

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