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.
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.
by Chelsey Webber
The concept of brand journalism is quickly becoming a trend in the world of public relations and marketing. Some professionals even venture to say that brand journalists will soon be in high demand. With traditional forms of journalism in decline, media and PR professionals could soon find themselves recruited by companies in search of brand journalists. But the question remains: what’s brand journalism?
Brand journalism stems from the idea that companies wish to be seen as more than just sellers of products and ideas. They want to be champions of sustainable efforts, environmentally friendly causes and resources, humanitarian efforts and more. AdAge characterizes brand journalism as a “Modern Marketing Imperative” that focuses on developing a brand’s story by producing creative, customized content. This extends beyond writing news releases and conversing on social media. Brand journalists write relevant and newsworthy stories to help develop a company’s brand beyond its products and services.
Coca-Cola: Brand Journalism Experts
Coca-Cola illustrates the concept of brand journalism brilliantly. Its website is filled with articles that, strangely enough, have very little to do with Coke products. You can find information regarding programs that range from restoring local parks and playgrounds to providing clean water for villages in Africa.
The content found on its website is telling the story of Coca-Cola’s brand. It positions the company as more than just a distributor of soft drinks by humanizing it. Coca-Cola’s brand has established it as not only an industry leader of soft drinks, but also as a champion of community outreach and humanitarian relief. Coke isn’t simply a soft drink; it’s a soft drink with integrity.
My Two Cents (You’re welcome).
My research on brand journalism leads me to believe that, as a whole, the concept is quite simple. As a brand journalist, you are not speaking to the company’s interests. Rather, you are speaking to the interests of the consumers.
In this wonderfully cohesive marriage of journalism, storytelling and brand management, you will find timely, relevant and newsworthy stories, written by brand journalists on behalf of a company. The important thing to recognize about brand journalism is that you are not writing marketing or advertising copy. These are stories that consumers can relate to without feeling bombarded by the never-ending stream of traditional marketing and advertising.
by Amanda Plachte
Jerry Seinfeld said it. Ham Porter said it. Even Jem from “To Kill a Mockingbird” said it. The phrase “like a girl” has been used with negative connotations for years and Procter & Gamble’s Always wants to change that.
Adweek author Roo Ciambrello writes in her article about the feminine products brand conducting a social experiment to help redefine the phrase. The research included interviews with girls ages 16 to 24 to learn what they think the phrase means and how its use makes them feel. The participants were asked to run like a girl, throw like a girl and fight like a girl. The result is a powerful ad that allows the viewer to experience the light bulb moments alongside those being filmed.
As a woman, I have experienced the negative use of “like a girl.” In fact, it is one of my biggest pet peeves; I cringe when I hear it. As a child I wore twirly dresses, I was active in sports through my teen years and I continue to set and achieve goals as an adult. I am a girl; so how can doing things “like a girl” be a bad thing? My favorite part of the ad is the following quote:
“Yes, I kick like a girl and I swim like a girl and I walk like a girl and I wake up in the morning like a girl — because I am a girl. And that is not something I should be ashamed of.”
A study conducted by Research Now, and sponsored by Always, found that around the age of puberty, girls tend to experience a drop in confidence, which may explain the varied responses in how different age groups view the phrase “like a girl.”
A Business Wire news release on the Procter & Gamble website explains the details. When older teenagers were asked to run, throw or fight “like a girl,” they fulfilled the negative stereotype by flailing their limbs to appear weak and ditsy. One of which is actually a marathon runner! When the younger kids were asked to do the same, they ran with confidence and threw strong punches.
“In my work as a documentarian, I have witnessed the confidence crisis among girls and the negative impact of stereotypes first-hand,” says award-winning documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield. “When the words ‘like a girl’ are used to mean something bad, it is profoundly disempowering.”
So, what is the PR angle?
I belive author Laura Ramos says it beautifully in her blog post about thought leadership. First she defines public relations:
Public relations (noun)
1. the actions of a corporation, government, individual, etc. in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc.
2. the art, technique or profession of promoting such goodwill
Then she follows up by saying, “Isn’t the publishing of audience-relevant, business-focused content an act of goodwill? Yes, but only if the marketers keep the selling out of the mix.”
I believe that is exactly what Always did. The company has established itself as a thought leader by being the first to reclaim a phrase that is damaging to its consumers. Plus, it managed to do so without attempting to sell a particular product.
What do we do now?
In Ramos’ blog post, she discusses a concept called IDEA – Identify, Develop, Engage and Assess. Always has been in the business of educating and supporting girls for over 30 years; the company knows its audience, it developed this awesome campaign and now it is time to engage.
Always is inviting girls and women everywhere to join the movement and share what they proudly do #LikeAGirl. Tweet, take a photograph, shoot a video or send a message to take a stand and show young people everywhere that doing things #LikeAGirl should never be used as an insult – that it means being strong, talented and downright amazing.