Boeing uses it to show us what an Air Force base test flight is really like. Louisiana Seafood taps it as a way for fishermen and seafood processors to tell their stories after the devastating BP oil spill. Imperial Sugar Company used it to overcome a corporate crisis.
It’s called brand journalism, a new form of communications for business that’s rapidly emerging as the digital revolution continues to evolve. It’s igniting excitement because of the way it boosts awareness for a company, often faster than social media, advertising or PR.
The reason why? Brand journalism takes a different direction, more aligned with this era of engaged conversation and transparency. It showcases authenticity. Consider what you choose to read when you’re online—news or advertisements? Stories about real people or self-serving promotions?
Harnessing all of the appeal and credibility of news—and tapping into people’s curiosity about what’s really behind a company—brand journalism brings a new dimension to the interactive and social media power of the Internet. It enables companies and organizations to tell their own stories and become trusted information resources for stakeholders and the media.
At the heart of brand journalism is a real-time online news site, developed by a company working with a team of skilled and accomplished journalists, and constantly updated. Legitimate news features and expert perspectives from opinion-leaders, together with eye-catching news photos, will help your company differentiate itself from competitors. Your company will become a trusted news resource.
Here’s what any brand journalism site needs:
1. Feature stories and profiles that call out the uniqueness of a company’s products, services and people. Use clear, ordinary language that attracts curious readers.
2. Third-party thought-leaders. Regular columns by industry analysts, experts and trade association leaders about trends and their perspective on your business sector as a whole.
3. Brevity. Keep stories short, about 250 words. Within that tight space, bring alive purpose, vision, and why something is special.
4. Authenticity. Keep things real by shining a light on employees who are making a difference.
5. Balance. A steady flow of industry news through excerpts and live news feeds underscore balance, transparency and openness—all tenets of legitimate news.
6. C-suite buy-in. It’s one of the most essential elements. Without a commitment to having an authentic and balanced website, any brand journalism effort is likely to wander into promotional terrain.
While brand journalism has evolved as a movement by many names since the 1980s, it has never reached a level of more influential power than today, with all the engaging, connected and interactive online tools at our fingertips.
Brand journalism is one of today’s most effective methods to bring alive the vision, passion and solid purpose of innovative companies determined to achieve leadership in today’s fiercely competitive world.
David Henderson is author of four books on the media and communications, He is an Emmy Award winning former CBS News correspondent and communications strategist based in Washington, D.C.