Brand Journalism: 5 Steps to Turning Your Blog Into a Publishing Powerhouse

By Dan Stasiewski

Information moves at the speed of a Tweet these days. That means marketing, public relations and journalism are all changing to keep up with this fast pace. Reporters who are under tight deadlines are now using Twitter and Google to find quick resources for their stories. And this is where brand journalism comes in.

Simply put, brand journalism is the practice of covering your company and your industry like a reporter would. That means dropping the corporate jargon, un-spinning the spin and providing trustworthy information to readers.

It also means transforming your marketing department into a publishing team that can produce content for readers and reporters doing online research.

Here are 5 steps to help you get started in brand journalism:

1.) Know Your Beat

Imagine this. You are reading an election story and the reporter just wrote what a candidate said verbatim. No background. No context. No comment from the other side. You wouldn’t give much weight to the story, would you? That’s how company announcements used to be… and it doesn’t work anymore.

Whether you work for a software company, a manufacturer or a car dealership, you need to know your industry and should write about it like the expert you are.  Your article will appear as a resource not just as a pitch. When industry writers (be they bloggers or journalists) search for information on the topic, they can find your article and will have more incentive to quote it in their own story.

2.) Find Your Sources

Even today, a marketing team can be removed from the day-to-day of an organization. That’s something you can no longer afford. Like any good journalist, you need sources. Talk with the people in your organization and get to know what they do and how they do it. They’ll provide you with new story ideas and can help you in a pinch when you need something clarified.

Additionally, you’ll need external sources, usually customers. They can give you a true user’s view-point into what your company and other companies in your industry are doing.

3.) Build an Editorial Team

Any publication has multiple voices creating content. If you’re recruiting, don’t just look for a person with experience in your industry. Hire someone who writes about your industry.

You don’t have to limit this to marketing professionals either. You want to add former reporters, outstanding bloggers or even the sources you rely on everyday — people who can research and report on what is going on quickly.

4.) Run Your Marketing Department Like a Newsroom

Those old marketing meetings? Stop them now. You’re the editor of an online publication and you need to start treating your department that way. Hold editorial meetings on a regular basis, inviting regular editorial team members and other people in the company to provide ideas and discuss the upcoming story calendar.

Once you start treating meetings like you’re in a newsroom, your editorial team will have an easier time writing quality content for your readers.

5.) Earn Trust

This is probably the most important part of brand journalism. Marketers have a reputation for being untrustworthy (some might even say evil).

You need to develop a reputation as an honest and trustworthy source. With so much out there about any given topic, your company’s expertise and insight into your own industry can provide readers with information they can’t get elsewhere. And sharing that information benefits everyone.

How does your company practice brand journalism? We’d love to hear your insights.

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