Brand Journalism and Content Marketing: What’s the difference?

by Jonathan Haile

This semester started with a question for Innovative PR: what is brand journalism? Just when we thought we had the answer, we scratched our heads and realized there was more to it. Ultimately, we concluded that brand journalists provide readers with different stories that cover different aspects of a brand. When readers piece these stories together, they have a general understanding of the brand’s image and values.

Our best example was Coca-Cola, which takes brand journalism to a new level with a site that looks similar to Mashable, but features all Coke-relevant content. While I’m a huge fan of what Coke is doing, I couldn’t help but think that “brand journalism” is just a fancy word for content marketing. So what’s the difference?

What is Content Marketing? 

My commutes to and from Warrensburg are filled with the words of Joe Pulizzi, the author of Epic Content Marketing. Pulizzi is credited with coining the term. In his book, he explains that the content marketing, in the grand scheme of things, is about getting leads and driving sales. Business 2 Community, another great resource, agrees with Pulizzi and explains that content marketing involves a “customer” relationship:

“Content marketing goal: Influence audience behavior by publishing useful content that supports the customer journey, encourages loyalty and enables amplifications.”

When you start a content marketing campaign, Pulizzi suggests you begin with a “pilot,” which he compares to that of a new television series. The pilot is an example of what your readers should expect, and is accompanied by sales measurable objectives. With a successful content strategy, you will always understand why and how your content is driving the audience to make purchase decisions.

Working together

The two concepts have inherently different objectives, but are great compliments to each other and share similarities. Brand journalists and content marketers need to be strategic in their posts—knowing what is relevant to the reader and where the post will get the most exposure.

Both tools should function to strengthen the relationship between customers and brands, lower brands’ advertising costs, and be beneficial for brands’ internal audiences. They reinforce corporate values and keep employees updated with company happenings.

As a PR student, what is more appealing? Would you rather tell the unique corporate story as a brand journalist or drive sales and build leads as a content marketer? Let us know. “Follow” Innovative PR on Twitter and Instagram, and “like” us on Facebook.

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