Using Brand Journalism to Tell Your Story

By Warren Lutz – Contributing Writer


Envision Technology Marketing MicrophoneThe former journalist in me bristles at the notion of “brand journalism.” There’s only one type of journalism – objective, unbiased and unvarnished truth! No spin! Nothing but facts!

But journalism is also about telling stories. And telling stories has real marketing benefits, because practically everything has a story behind it – your company, your product, even you.


What is brand journalism?

Brand journalism – also described as “content marketing” – is basically the same thing as traditional journalism, except the topic is usually your company or your product or service, and the audience is your customers and potential customers. There’s no pitching and no showy language. Just useful facts and ideas.

Brand journalism can be published through blogs, but it can also be published via video, images, newsletters, or websites. What matters most is that the content is engaging and either entertains readers or provides them something of value.


How do I get started? what, when, where, why, how

It’s pretty simple. Identify your audience and then find out what what experts they follow and what they are reading. Then, write articles on these topics – or get someone to write them for you.

Whether you’re writing these articles yourself or hiring someone to do it, keep in mind that the goal is not to sell or be tricky – it’s to be honest, inform, entertain, and invite your audience to do something.


What is this ‘content garden’ stuff?

As you come up with your stories (i.e. “content”), you’ll need to get them out there by leveraging a combination of or all media platforms your company owns. That includes your website, newsletters, email, and social media such as LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook.

The goal is to reach your key audience, wherever they are. If you sell consumer goods, most likely you’re going to find your audience on Facebook and Twitter. If you are marketing B2B products and services, LinkedIn, Quora, or Google+ may be your better bet. It just depends.


Does all this stuff actually work?

A few months ago, Cisco, an ETMG client, began experimenting with brand journalism. Writes Karen Snell, Social Media Communications Manager at Cisco: “Our expectations of the writers were, and still are, very simple: pitch and produce good, solid stories around topics that we, Cisco, are interested in such as collaboration, video, core networking, cloud, mobility and security to name a few.”

Cisco hired award-winning journalists. None were required to mention Cisco in their stories. The idea was to engage Cisco’s audience, identify trends and invite people to participate.

Since beginning its “experiment,” Cisco has won the 2012 Webby Awards Official Honoree and Best Online Newsroom of the Year (Silver) 2011 Bulldog Digital/Social PR Awards. Oh, and its revenues continue to climb.


Think of brand journalism as intelligent marketing.

Whether you seek to inform or entertain, it’s about giving your audience something they can use, and not wasting their time. As a marketer, it’s an incredibly smart tool, and well worth the effort.



Communications Innovation: Brand Journalism and Cisco’s Corporate News Site

PRWeek: Brand journalism: everyone has a story

Six Steps to Running a Content Garden


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