Why Brand Journalism is Right for Good Businesses

By Gordon Smith

Brands hiring a journalist: heaven-sent or hindrance?

A recent article on Marketing Magazine suggested that companies should be wary of the possible dangers in employing journalists. The article discusses the pros and cons of brand journalism, ending with the advice, ‘But, come on guys, employing real journos? Be careful what you wish for.’

brand journalism: journalist imageWhat is brand journalism?

Brand journalism is exactly what you’d expect it to be: journalism on behalf of a brand. This isn’t restricted to the large, powerful brands. In fact, brand-journalism.co.uk stresses that it is a powerful tool open to any organisation, be it commercial, business or charity. The aim of brand journalism is to speak to the public via content created for the brand. The concept isn’t entirely new; it also goes under the names of ‘content marketing’, or ‘custom publishing’, which some people may be more familiar with.

The author of the article warns brands who may want to hire journalist to produce their content. How far will this journalist go? Does he have an unmovable desire for uncovering the truth, whatever it takes? All sounds a bit dramatic for what will realistically be a person writing a blog post about trainers.

While it’s clear to see where this concern comes from given recent well-known incidences of phone hacking, going through people’s bins etc., this concern is misplaced. There are many branches of journalism, and being a hack is just one of them. In fact, if someone chose to become a hack-style journalist, odds are they wouldn’t send in a CV to an established brand to produce content for them.

As the author points out, the murkier tactics from the tabloid scene are gradually dying away, and there are many more reputable news writers who work to produce an honest piece of content without tearing down the foundations of every company they work for.

How can brand journalism create a positive effect for a company?

In a recent talk at Search London, Pete Campbell, Managing Director of Kaizen – SEO and content marketing company, gave insight as to how talking with a journalist inspired him to increase his outreach in various brand campaigns. His method was to learn the basic approach to solid PR campaign strategy.

During his talk, Campbell quoted marketing guru, Seth Godin:

“PR & Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell.”

If there was ever to be a professional who can competently tell a story from a current angle that includes all the juiciest, most sharable facts, it’s a journalist.

It has already been established that PR and marketing are growing closer and closer together. With the call between them for well-written content and knowledge for what would sell as a headline and story, it has only ever increased.

As the article on Marketing Magazine points out, the more traditional media have always had a relationship with PR, and featured certain products and services. So what would stop this existing alliance?

As long as there is something newsworthy about a brand, a journalist will always be able to provide content. The cautionary tale still exists, but should not be with the journalist, no matter how scrupulous they are. The caution should be with the brand itself. A company who is misleading, or unethical will be found out and lose the consumer’s trust one way or another, with or without an in-house journalist.

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