A brand journalist is a strategic storyteller who discovers and creates news content on behalf of a brand.
Some public relations professionals may assume that starting a brand journalism program is as easy as finding a journalist to move from the newsroom to their communications team.
Though journalism experience helps, successful brand journalists can seamlessly combine their reporting skills with communications strategy. Do you have what it takes to be a brand journalist?
Here are 10 tips:
1. Be a skillful storyteller.
Brand journalism is built on the principles of good storytelling. First and foremost, a brand journalist must be a strategic storyteller with a full understanding of how to write and create compelling stories using multimedia tools such as video, photos, text, tweets, etc.
2. Know your target audience.
Though many news journalists report for the masses, your brand might have a very specific target audience. It’s a brand journalist’s responsibility to understand whom they are targeting, so they can create news content for that specific audience.
3 . Understand ‘news value’ as it applies to a brand.
A brand journalist seamlessly combines journalistic principles with elements of strategic communication. They understand when a story is right for brand journalism and also recognize when a topic is too commercial. A skilled brand journalist can often transform a company initiative into a compelling story that has real news value to the target audience.
4. Be strategic.
A brand journalist uses research, timeliness, and a focused awareness of the world around them to suggest strategy for brand journalism content and campaigns.
5. Be aggressive in finding stories.
A brand journalist understands the tenacity and relationship-building efforts associated with uncovering compelling story topics within a brand.
6. Report with integrity.
A brand journalist creates stories that are factual, well-researched, timely, and compelling.
7. Strategically choose story structure.
A brand journalist understands how to strategically structure their story. Whereas a traditional journalist might rely on emotion to carry the story, a seasoned brand journalist balances emotion with the role of the brand included in a newsworthy way.
8. Embrace transparency.
A brand journalist recognizes the value of being embedded inside a brand and is transparent about the brand relationship.
9. Value engagement.
A brand journalist encourages dialogue about their stories on social media platforms.
10. Always be ‘on.’
Maintaining a brand journalist’s mindset means always being aware of what’s happening in the world as it applies to their target audience. A brand journalist never truly stops working, because they never want to miss a storytelling opportunity.
Ron Burgundy or Clark Kent: Which type of brand journalist are you?
Just as news reporters and anchors have different journalistic styles, so do brand journalists. Take our quiz to find out which type of brand journalist you are.
Lisa Arledge Powell is president of MediaSource, a public relations firm that specializes in Brand Journalism, named Best Health Care Agency in 2013 and 2014 in Ragan’s Health Care PR & Marketing Awards. She’s on twitter at @LisaArledge.