This week we bring you a special three-part post co-written with Tim Gray, content strategist at online marketing/web design firm Blue Fountain Media. Tim believes that brand journalism is indeed the future of PR–and that the best way to promote a brand is to create that crucial content yourself and promote it via social media.
The first step on the way to making brand journalism work: abandon the self-centered approach to messaging that formed the basis of the traditional PR playbook.
- Move beyond the standard PR mindset
For decades, brands bombarded customers with me-first messages pushing “my product, my service, my plan…that you the customer now have the pleasure to purchase at my command”. This approach worked because customers didn’t have too many options when searching for information. It doesn’t work any longer, because most web surfers will quickly abandon your page unless you present them with compelling, easily accessible stories that truly engage, entertain and inform.
The “if you write it, they will come” maxim feels a little too simple though, doesn’t it?
No one wants to hear about your brand all the time, however great it maybe—so large portions of your work (articles, videos, blog posts, infographics, etc.) should focus on topics not directly related to your business. Think of these items as “things you touch.”
- How it’s done: Start small by posting a couple of times a week on topics of shared interest within your particular industry. Solicit feedback and hone your content skills via reader comments and user-friendly email-the-editor features.
- How it’s spread: Use all available social networking outlets to pull your audience toward you rather than beating them over the head with your message. Feature social buttons on every page to encourage sharing—because all those arrows will eventually point back to your brand.
The “social” key: Social sharing is more important now than ever; Google and Bing both recently incorporated information on shared links into their algorithms, so frequent sharing pushes content higher in search engine rankings. For this reason and others, brand journalism (and certain aspects of content marketing) has become an extremely important element of SEO efforts.
An example of a brand that makes it work: HSBC’s Business Without Borders, a site filled with newsworthy content about businesses that thrive in overseas markets.
Tomorrow we’ll post more guidelines–and examples of businesses achieving visible success in the brand journalism game.