6 essentials for outstanding brand journalism

Cobbling together a promotional article about your organization and hitting the ‘publish’ button is not enough. Follow these practices to capture audience attention and build loyalty.

Untitled Document The Internet has helped brand journalism become ubiquitous.

Gone are the days when brand managers needed an intermediary to reach their target audience. Now, they have the luxury of reaching out to their audiences directly through content storytelling. But how do they do this effectively?

Brand content must be both appealing and mapped to business objectives. Content storytelling is all about creating attractive, valuable and interesting information that your customers are passionate about, so they pay attention and engage with the brand.

In the words of Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, “If we tell our stories the right way, we have the ability to become legitimate publishers in our own right.”

People respond to content that is:

  • Sharable
  • Visually appealing
  • Engaging
  • Well executed

Building a visually appealing and engaging website, writing regular blogs, email marketing, use of multimedia (videos/photos/infographics) and using social media networks to target the audience are ways to share a brand story. In today’s hyper-connected world, anyone can be a publisher.

Related: Find your “brand” voice, become a media outlet, and produce great stories.

What could possibly go wrong with brand publishing? Quite a few things. If you want to publish successfully on behalf of your brand, keep the following in mind:

1. Know your audience: Who is your target audience? Are you regularly listening to established and potential consumers? Identifying your target audience and listening to their needs and wants can help you tailor brand content across various platforms to maximize its reach.

Check out Dell’s Idea Storm website. Through it, online reps don’t just listen to its audience to address complaints; they give them a chance to solve the problems the company faces, as well. They also post StormSessions, where they pose questions and challenges to customers and partners who then offer ideas/solutions on the issue at hand.

This is an organization that listens and is actively interested in improving and investing in what its customers want. As of this writing, Dell has implemented over 549 ideas provided by its fans.

2. Be smart about content: Do not focus on volume, but on consistency and quality of content. It is imperative to set up a content plan to have meaningful, personalized interactions across your online platforms.

For example, Zomato helps users discover great local places to eat, serving 22 countries worldwide. It believes in quality over quantity. Thus, it uses multiple channels for content marketing efficiently and effectively by following this principle.

Don’t overload your blogs and Facebook and Twitter feeds; instead, deliver high-quality and consistent content for a more meaningful and personalized audience experience.

3. Make it searchable: Search engines reward sites that deliver terrific content. Keep in mind that it should be fresh and meaningful for it to be searchable.

4. Use multi-media platforms (videos/photos/infographics): Often, images and videos are easier for consumers to absorb than text alone is. Visuals help you engage a wider audience. According to Facebook, its users view more than 4 billion videos a day.

Consider how Amul uses images. It’s one of India’s oldest and best-known food brands, itself a product of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (and the largest milk producer in the world).

Be it a cause or social issue, Amul is quick to jump into the story, often introducing the Amul girl into the landscape. This has made the brand iconic. Check out a few examples here; I’ll include a screen grab of one of their latest “Amul Topical” posts from Twitter to get you started. ​

5. Build a community: An audience might read your blog, consume and share your information, and easily distinguish your brand from the rest of the crowd. However, a community is a group of passionate fans who are actively seeking out and sharing the content. Buffer does an excellent job of community building, and I’m glad to be a part of its community. As someone passionate about “all things digital,” I look forward to its content, whether via email or a tweet, and I invariably share the content with my network.

6. Be human: The once-regarded best practices for telling a brand’s story are now relatively ineffective in generating consumer trust. Because of social media networks, today the audience’s trust is built via continuous brand engagement and direct conversations.

It is important for brand managers to cultivate an emotional connection with their community and audience.

Follow these six principles and, over time, you might have an Amul girl of your own.

What do you think are the golden rules of successful brand publishing? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section.

A version of this post first appeared on Waxing Unlyrical, online home of Shonali Burke Consulting.

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