It’s a relatively new concept, so if you’re asking “hey, just what is brand journalism,” you’re not alone.
Brand journalism essentially embeds a journalist (in my view, a former journalist) within a company to help the company tell better stories and create content that adds value to the reader, viewer or listener.
The idea is to create content that meaningfully engages the audience in ways that don’t leave them feeling like someone is trying to sell them something. It is a different kind of content from that which is in a press release, but it is a type of PR content that PR and marketing practitioners manage or create.
A company will hire hire a journalist who is not affiliated with any one news outlet to create the content, relying on their skills to tell more engaging stories and create multi-media content. PR departments get journalism quality stories that look and feel like real journalism.
But they aren’t journalism. And they aren’t because the journalist is on the company’s payroll, which, removes any possibility of any real sense of objectivity.
That’s not to say they aren’t bringing a great many of their journalistic skills to bear. That isn’t to say they aren’t great journalists, maybe even brilliant journalists, but in this role, they are not journalists. They have transitioned to to a new career in PR and marketing.
They are performing a paid service to help certain messages about a brand to resonate within target audiences.That’s not a journalism.
Many will disagree with me, especially those within the PR community who are promoting issues and products that get push back. Hiring a journalist to create their content gives it the aura of a third party endorsement. But it’s in appearance only, and it’s spin, since the creator of the content is on the company’s payroll.
What’s the difference?
Call up a journalist to ask for a correction because he didn’t write the story according to the press release, and there’s a mighty fine chance your story will get killed.
Branded content, I can buy. But not journalism.
Some proponents argue that Brand Journalism is “honest brand storytelling that invites audiences to participate.” Others say it is “honest, informative and engaging.”
The latter describes what PR should have always been. And the first is what it should increasingly be aspiring to in the era in which we live.
Please feel free to check out other Online PR, Public Relations, Journalism, Social Media and Marketing terms.