Why brand journalism should focus on the human element

This storytelling approach to marketing has taken hold and isn’t going away anytime soon. Still, it must be properly angled, with an emphasis on people, to engage consumers.

The key ingredient in successful brand journalism is people.

Focusing on the people behind the product, the people using the product, the people helping others with the product and not the product itself is a core tenet of brand journalism.

Take Starbucks and its annual holiday cups. The company chose to focus marketing efforts on the employee behind the artwork.

This showed that Starbucks values its employees and creates a positive work environment, which resonates with established and potential customers alike. Starbucks becomes more human and seems less like a giant food and beverage chain.

Its use of storytelling has helped spread the organization’s message. In the past, this might have been done by buying expensive newswire services or spending hours pitching largely unresponsive journalists.

A way to spotlight your benevolence

Another example is Sprint and its website, goodworks.sprint.com. That’s where brand managers discuss environmental and sustainability topics, such as recycling and re-purposing programs so cellular phones don’t end up in landfills; the Sprint Drive First App to make safe driving a priority; and its efforts to provide Internet service to 50,000 disadvantaged youth nationwide through President Barack Obama’s ConnectEd Inniative.

Through its publishing platform Sprint creates compelling and shareable content about those core initiatives.

GE was an early adopter of brand journalism, and it’s still blazing a trail with GE Reports. It publishes content almost daily under such headings as “Latest from Innovation, “Latest from Topics, and “Latest from Perspectives.”

I recently read about the “5 Coolest Things on Earth This Week” and “Employing an Untapped Resource in Saudi Arabia: Women.” The content is consistently relevant, relatable and interesting-without pushing the brand.

Social media, brand journalism and stories about people can be integrated to create great content, which in turn drives sales. Offering insight, research and opinions on issues and trends-along with contributing stories and news about more than just your own products and services-ultimately helps provide value for your public relations and communications efforts.

A version of this article originally appeared on Business 2 Community.

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