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Thinking Like a (Brand) Journalist: 3 Tips for Covering Your Own Company

Recent­ly, I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to attend the Ragan Con­tent Mar­ket­ing Con­fer­ence in the heart of Sil­i­con Val­ley and left with sev­er­al take­aways about brand jour­nal­ism and con­tent mar­ket­ing that we’ll be putting to work for our clients in the future.

Brand jour­nal­ism is a buzzy term that you may have seen thrown around in com­mu­ni­ca­tions and pub­lic rela­tions cir­cles. How­ev­er, it’s an approach that our agency has used for years, even before it had a name.

The Bell­mont Part­ners team is full of for­mer jour­nal­ists: almost all of us at some point in our career worked for a col­lege news­pa­per, a TV news sta­tion, radio sta­tion, mag­a­zine, online out­let, local news­pa­per or some com­bi­na­tion of all of these. We pride our­selves in think­ing like jour­nal­ists not only when it comes to media rela­tions – our strate­gies are designed with reporters, edi­tors and pro­duc­ers in mind – but also when it comes to unearthing sto­ries that high­light our clients’ val­ues and ini­tia­tives and “report­ing” them in a jour­nal­is­tic way.

Brand jour­nal­ism means putting on your reporter hat and dig­ging deep at your own orga­ni­za­tion. By being curi­ous about your company’s unique sto­ries, you may come across a nev­er-before-told nugget that could be the inspi­ra­tion for your next great piece of con­tent or a unique top­ic on which your com­pa­ny is a thought leader.

Here are some of the key insights from the con­fer­ence:

  • Show, don’t tell. This is a key jour­nal­is­tic prin­ci­ple – I can’t tell you how many times my edi­tors have remind­ed me of this idiom. Find an indi­vid­ual sto­ry that illus­trates the broad­er, high­er-lev­el sto­ry you’re try­ing to tell. Rather than telling your audi­ences what your news is and how it will ben­e­fit them, find a “char­ac­ter” with­in your com­pa­ny or cus­tomer base to show how the news is ben­e­fit­ting them indi­vid­u­al­ly, and there­fore the rest of your stake­hold­ers. Then, broad­en it out to a larg­er trend or top­ic and expand on how your announce­ment ties into it.
  • Cre­ate a com­pa­ny news­room. Your com­pa­ny is filled with experts in your indus­try – why not take advan­tage of their unique expe­ri­ence and exper­tise? Gath­er your company’s com­mu­ni­ca­tors from across depart­ments to cre­ate a “news­room” of con­tent cre­ators who will brain­storm and “pitch” sto­ry ideas inter­nal­ly, inter­view your sub­ject mat­ter experts and write and pub­lish sto­ries on var­i­ous top­ics fea­tur­ing your employ­ees, clients and oth­er stake­hold­ers. And don’t wor­ry that your company’s exper­tise is too niche – in fact, the more niche your field is, the more well-posi­tioned you are to become a thought leader in your indus­try and have your staff be the sole experts in the field.
  • Be your own pub­lish­er. News­rooms across the coun­try are more squeezed than ever before – few­er reporters mean jour­nal­ists may be cov­er­ing more beats than ever, thus they may have less time to pro­duce con­tent – lim­it­ing their abil­i­ty to devote time to your company’s news. Instead of cross­ing your fin­gers that some­one is going to cov­er your news, write or pro­duce the sto­ry your­self, like a jour­nal­ist would. This allows you to tell your sto­ry using the facts along with the inside knowl­edge only some­one from your per­spec­tive would have, and it pro­vides an angle and tem­plate that media can latch on to, giv­ing you the best of both worlds. Be sure to also uti­lize resources like social media, your com­pa­ny news­room intranet or newslet­ter to share the news inter­nal­ly and exter­nal­ly.

We’ll keep putting these tac­tics into action and hope you will, too, so get out there and start being your company’s own beat reporter!

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