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!