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Brand Journalism an Opportunity for Young Professionals

PRSA Rochester hosted a webinar viewing and group discussion today on “The Power of Brand Journalism: Sharing Your Story From The Ground Up.” Diane Gage Lofgren, APR, Fellow PRSA, senior vice president, marketing and communications, Sharp HealthCare, led the webinar.

Brand journalism uses the tools, tactics and style of journalism to tell a company’s story. It’s related but different than content marketing, the technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience. In short, brand journalism is a way to tell authentic stories from within and around your organization to build trust with stakeholders. As one great example, check out a video published by UPS in December 2014 that told the story of how the company made a 4-year-old-boy a UPS driver for a day.

Event attendees discussed other examples of great brand journalism, including:

  • Adobe’s CMO.com delivers marketing insights, expertise and inspiration for and by marketing leaders.
  • Amex’s OPEN Forum provides insights, inspiration and connections to grow small businesses.
  • Xerox’s Chief Optimist magazine intended for senior executives who know that positive attitudes yield positive results. 

 

So how do these companies achieve their brand journalism goals? Lofgren shared four steps to “feed the content beast:”

  1. Plan – Understand your audiences and channels. Build a robust content plan.
  2. Produce – Press releases, media pitches, videos, infographics, etc.
  3. Publish – Website, blogs and social media are all important.
  4. Syndicate – Third-party sites, brand ambassadors and paid social media placements are all options here.

Brand journalism focuses on great storytelling, making it similar to traditional media relations efforts. But it certainly involves other, different skill sets. At today’s event, attendees discussed the need to build the following skills:

  • Graphic design – the visual element is very important to capturing and keeping a reader’s attention.
  • Video editing and production – allow a brand’s journalism efforts to be more multi-faceted and professional.
  • Analytics and measurement – it’s equally important to analyze results and figure out which tactics are performing best for a brand.

 

But event attendees agreed that at the core, strong writing is the most essential skill to have as a brand journalist. It’s the basis for all the other complementary skills, and still the most fundamental skill for any PR practitioner to have.

While everyone in the room understood the importance of brand journalism, they all agreed that it’s difficult to accomplish these goals within their current budgets and with their current staffing resources. That’s good news for current college students and young professionals looking to break into the PR industry. They have the opportunity to position themselves as strong writers who also have experience in digital technologies – the perfect package for a budding brand journalist!

You can download the slides used in the presentation here. Or, if you’re a PRSA member, you can view the webinar for free here.

Jim Mignano

Jim Mignano is an Account Executive at Text100 and a College at Brockport alum. He is currently serving as PRSA Rochester’s President and also volunteers with the Young PR Professionals group. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or learn more about him in PRSA Rochester’s Advisory Network.

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