A table painted like a sky holds a red typewriter to intro, What is brand journalism?

Brand Journalism: Grow Your Business As An Industry Resource

Posted in Marketing Strategy

Posted on August 18th, 2017

Think brand journalism strategies are reserved for robust corporations like Zillow, Coke, American Express and Monster? Think again! Consumers at all levels are searching for objective information from a trusted source before making any purchase decisions — and that goes for B2C and B2B spaces.  

While plenty of businesses understand this concept, executing a solid content strategy can be easier said than done — particularly when resources are limited. Let’s take a look at steps/tips for small businesses aiming to create effective brand journalism strategies that don’t break the bank (and actually MAKE money).

Here are a number of components to keep in mind when creating a lean, yet effective publication strategy:

Transform a blog/website into a news source

If you haven’t already, create a blog or area on your site specific to news/informative articles about your industry. Once that’s covered, make sure users can find it. Having an awesome blog or newsroom without visibility from the homepage is a sad story.

In terms of blog design, think about what you search for in a news source. Separating content into categories relevant to your business and users not only makes your site look like a news source (rather than a billboard), but also creates a simplified user experience.

Having trouble thinking about categories? Start by breaking down your services/products. If you’re a boat reseller, for example, you might not think to have a category related to boat covers… but people generally have questions before buying a boat cover. That category could be used to answer those questions.

Write branded content with journalistic integrity

This isn’t about you. The number one lesson to remember when crafting content for your brand is that it’s not about you… it’s about the reader. Take an objective view and craft content that truly serves the reader.

Let’s go back to the boat cover example. Sure, you want to sell your boat covers. But what does the customer need to know before making an informed buying decision? Equip them with knowledge they need to make the right choice for their situation. If you truly have the products that fit them, they’ll figure that out and feel better about the purchase.

A common mistake organizations make is assuming they know their audience.

Industry-related research identifying trends in search behavior is one way to get into the heads of your target audience. For smaller organizations, this could mean sitting down and talking with the sales team to understand common objections and questions regularly brought up by potential customers.

Generate ideas/maintain an editorial calendar

Generating ideas for your organization is easier than you likely think. As we noted above, online listening tools and even the objections your sales team often hears are great ways to generate content ideas. Yet what do you do with all of those ideas? It can seem overwhelming to look at a list of great article topics, particularly when time and resources are strapped.

This is where the editorial calendar comes in. An effective ed cal assists in organizing topics ideas, creating a one-stop guideline for your brand journalism schedule. Great editorial calendars take into account seasonal considerations (which change depending on vertical), major events (vertical conferences) and other time-sensitive factors pertinent to your business.

Once an editorial calendar is created, the process can flow from there. No need for meetings and brainstorming sessions every time a piece of content is generated.

Create an experience that leaves the reader impressed

Think of a publication that covers issues related to your brand’s vertical. Then, after crafting content for your article, ask yourself if the content could serve as an article in that given publication.

The goal should be to surprise the reader when they discover the content is coming from an organization (not a news organization). Overtly selling your product or service doesn’t fit into this model. Consumers today are B.S. detectors — if you’re pulling a quick one, they’ll know.

Write in inverted pyramid style

Now to the actual writing portion of the post. Great brand journalism follows the same principles of news journalism, including the motto: Don’t bury the lead.

This simply means you should get to the point — right away. Give the most pertinent information to your reader upfront. Once you’ve provided the most relevant information (who, what, when, where, how), get into the details. Don’t make readers wade through your madness in order to find pertinent info — take it easy on ‘em, and they’ll take it easy on you. And the SEO bots will be pleased 🙂

Get your information out there!

While great content is critical for SEO and serves current and potential customers, we’d be remiss not to recommend effective organic and paid social media/search strategies. Why? Targeting within the social and search channels puts content in front of your ideal audience. It’s that simple. If you’re going through the effort of generating stellar content, make it work for your organization! We like to think of it as adding more bang for your buck.

Set up goals

When it comes to content marketing, it’s very easy to get into a pattern of creating content for the sake of it. For every piece of content created, identify an intended goal. Content’s effectiveness can’t be determined without a goal to measure against. Utilize features in Google Analytics like goal conversion tracking to not only measure effectiveness of your content, but to also understand how to improve content. For example. If visitors to your blog drop out before completing your desired action, ask yourself why. Better understand the reader/customer to meet their needs — and meet your goals. 

Have questions about getting a content strategy started? Our team LOVES answering questions. Contact us today!

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