The Brand Journalism Revolution: Why your company should think like the media
Eleanor McGillie is the director of MGMPR Ltd – Northern Ireland’s PR agency which adopts a brand journalism approach to Public Relations. Eleanor explains why companies and organisations, public and private sector, should join the brand journalism revolution.
Brand journalism is the most obvious solution in the world of communications. It’s happening in America and it’s happening right here in Northern Ireland. You want your story told so you need to start thinking like a journalist. Journalists know how to find a story, write the story, pitch the story and get traction which will mean something to your readers and engage new audiences.
This is why smart companies are joining the brand journalism revolution for their internal and external communications. They are becoming their own publishers. Why? Because the world of communications is changing and businesses are getting smarter about how they communicate.
It’s like a tale of two planets – the work planet and the planet we live in outside of work.
In work, most people are subject to documents full of jargon – internally and externally. Websites are too often swamped in jargon, internal and external newsletters are full of jargon, ‘press releases’ are too often full of jargon and guess what? Everyone’s bored and suddenly websites are graveyards for press releases.
Then of course there’s the planet outside of work! What do you enjoy reading when you’re at home? Business Insider? Mashable? Buzzfeed? Of course you do – these are examples of cutting edge publishing platforms with compelling content, covering large events and mashups.
If you own a company you should start thinking about how your company should become its own publisher. Your company has numerous stories to tell and that story needs to be audience centric. Speak to existing customers. Speak to new customers. Use content to convert. Use content to engage.
Great content mixed in with great audience engagement equals great success. Businesses are becoming smarter by changing the style and tone of their content. Company websites are becoming less like press release graveyards and becoming more content led. We are starting to see real stories being told.
So what is brand journalism?
Brand journalism is a powerful communication tool which combines real reporting, using brand journalists, to write engaging storytelling for your brand using your experts and your experiences. Global companies have been using this powerful tool since 2004 as a fresh approach to telling their stories.
Companies like Red Bull, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, IBM, HSBC, Dell, Adobe and Intel all practice brand journalism. Companies are switching their attention to having an editorially-led approach.
Here in Northern Ireland, it’s fantastic to see companies adopting a brand journalism approach to their public relations. CEOs and business owners want something fresh, effective and meaningful. They see the value of storytelling as a powerful way to connect, build brands and manage reputations.
In 2012, when MGMPR Ltd introduced brand journalism to Northern Ireland, we read with great interest as the Coca-Cola Journey began to unfold in the New York Times.
Coca-Cola unveiled its own brand journalism website – the ‘Coca-Cola Journey’ and set its own deadline for when ‘Press Releases’ would no longer exist in its organisation.
The New York Times covered the ‘Coca-Cola Journey’ debut. The paper focused on the company’s shift to brand journalism by highlighting its significance in the world of marketing and PR. It focused on how the company was switching its attention to an editorially-led approach to engage in the fast growing digital space.
So, hats off to Coca-Cola for its successful Coca-Cola Journey http://www.coca-colacompany.com/. American Express has an audience of over one million on its ‘Open Forum’ site https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/explore/ where news is published and written in a way which is directed at small business people. And why should you spend money to do this for your customers? Brand loyalty of course!
When your organisation adopts a brand journalism approach then the rest will fall into place. By using journalistic techniques you are recognising the importance of your audience coming first. Brand journalism allows companies to explore real stories which will appeal to their audience, and, by using a variety of techniques, you will see the benefits of engaging with your audience through subtle storytelling, blogging, case-studies, photography, video and infographics on multiple publishing platforms.
On the external side do traditional media relations but don’t expect journalists in the media to do your job for you. All too often PR companies send in ‘press releases’ which actually then requires a journalist to re-write it, check facts, do further research which, quite frankly, under resourced newsrooms do not have the time to do this. If you want the media to publish a story it’s important to give them a story – an actual news story, a business story, a feature, an interesting interview opportunity alongside multi-media packages which not only benefits you but also the media’s publishing platforms.
Brand journalism is an exciting, credible and smart way for businesses to communicate. In September, I will be discussing how businesses in Northern Ireland are adopting a brand journalism approach to PR. I have been invited as a guest on an American podcast show with a former TV journalist, now turned brand journalist, who hosts The Brand Journalism Advantage Podcast. She was recently named as one of the Top 50 Podcasters to Follow for PR, Marketing and Social Media by Cision. We will be discussing brand journalism, marketing, storytelling, business, PR and entrepreneurship. Company bosses are re-thinking how they communicate.
If you would like to find out how your business could adopt a brand journalism approach to communications, we would be delighted to hear from you. Numerous examples are on http://mgmpr.co.uk so please check out what we do. If you wish to speak to Eleanor directly please call 07709805379.