Pursuing brand journalism? Start with engaging storytelling

As with mainstream media reporting, a compelling narrative attracts and holds readers. Consider these insights as you wade—or dive headlong—into this marketing approach.

Brand journalism storytelling

Why are so many organizations creating brand journalism platforms?

Great journalism is, at its heart, great storytelling. Successful brand journalism must also be great storytelling—even if it revolves around a brand, product, destination or concept.

Even as the tools of technology make short bursts of communication more and more pervasive, we still long for a strong, connected narrative.

The mistake many organizations make is assuming that short bursts are sufficient. The new technology has boosted the opportunity to create more substantive, rewarding narratives—and to become your own publisher. That’s where organizations should focus content marketing efforts.

Storytelling is about making connections. That’s what great storytellers do. That’s what great brand journalism does, too.

Successful brand journalism shares compelling stories and engages its target audiences in a way that builds community and leads to even more shared storytelling.

A successful brand journalism platform is a home for information, knowledge and context. It doesn’t sell as much as it informs. By making a comfortable, engaging home for information, for education and for fun, a successful brand journalism platform becomes an attractive online watering hole and a hangout that benefits its publishing organization.

As Maria Perez of PR Newswire put it a few years ago:

Consumers want more from companies than just products and services—they want to know companies care about them, about their goals, their dreams, and their lives. When done right, brand journalism allows companies to connect with consumers more personally than through a traditional ad.

That’s why such diverse companies as Airbnb and Lowe’s are investing in brand journalism.

At Airbnb’s online brand journalism platform, travelers are encouraged to share their travel stories. This solicitation to share pictures, videos and travelogues is at the heart of the brand journalism goal of creating a community. The Stories section of the Airbnb website doesn’t sell Airbnb; it shares the fun and the experiences of travel through user-generated content– sometimes funny and often poignant—curated by Airbnb.

Lowe’s uses its brand journalism platform to become a font of home improvement knowledge, with a how-to library and a YouTube channel of how-to video. Most homeowners who watch a Lowe’s video on sink repair will probably learn something useful. Not all will head off to Lowe’s for the necessary supplies. A fair number will, but those who don’t will still recognize that Lowe’s has built a good resource for home improvement tips.

The Pittsburgh 100 is part of a national brand journalism network of more than 20 regional publications, featuring content from Alaska to Dallas to Dubai. Based upon focus group research of executives, the network’s publications features stories of exactly 100 words and videos of exactly 100 seconds.

The Pittsburgh 100, published 25 times a year, provides a consistent journalistic platform to share insights of clients while providing a broad perspective on the local community from coffee shops to events, personalities to restaurants.

Brand journalism can help a self-publisher become an industry leader, resource and trusted advisor. If you need inspiration, plenty of organizations are doing it well.

If you’re keen to launch your own brand journalism efforts but you’re not sure where to begin, keep in mind that it’s not a replacement for objective journalism or media relations. It’s just one more way communicators can control the message and reach an audience in meaningful ways.

How are you using brand journalism? Please leave your comments below.

A version of this post first appeared on WordWrite Communications.

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