Brand Journalists: Going Corporate With Traditional Journalism

Why Companies Are Hiring Brand Journalists

Brand journalists are increasingly popular in the content marketing world, but what’s the real deal behind this position? How can a brand journalist improve your marketing strategy?

We set out to get some answers. With the help of Ann Handley from MarketingProfs, a popular resource for online marketers, we broke down what brand journalists do and put together some examples of their work.

The job

A brand journalist works within your company to create intriguing content that caters to your niche audience. A journalist has often “switched sides,” jumping ship from the traditional newsroom and hopping on board the brand-promoting boat. Their journalism background is what makes them an asset, Handley says.

A brand journalist should bring a complete journalistic skill set to your company, including the ability to advocate for your readers.

“Journalists are the only people, in my mind, who put the needs of the audience versus the company first,” she explains. “Paradoxically, that serves a company’s needs far better because the content they create is customer-driven versus corporate-driven.”

Still not sold on the idea? Here are some examples that highlight the benefits of brand journalism.

Better storytellers

A journalist knows how to captivate an audience and tell a must-read story. Plus, they know how to do it quickly, Handley says. Journalists are used to turning quality content under a deadline.

These skills were the perfect fit for RedBull when they sponsored Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the edge of space. When the daredevil plummeted to earth from a helium balloon floating 24 miles up in the stratosphere, the company used brand journalism to tell Baumgartner’s story. Articles about the professional parachutist, his team, and the technology behind the stunt were all created and posted on a site entirely devoted to Baumgartner. RedBull also covered the event with live video and updates.

RedBull Stratos Homepage

Relatable content

A trained reporter can explain the most complicated business efforts in an easy-to-digest manner. They’re like decoders, taking complicated and cryptic content and breaking it down so a general audience can understand the message.

Technical fields demand this type of coverage. A reporter can take a medical study, which may be full of not-so-glamorous information, and make readers care about it. Journalists know how to cut through the clutter and pull out the information that readers want to know about.

For example, when GE realized its scientists had developed a magnet that could revolutionize refrigeration, the company used brand journalism to explain complex scientific terms like “the magnetocaloric effect.”

From the outset, the article is aimed at consumers. To start, the title doesn’t have any confusing scientific terms in it and instead addresses why the average person would care about such an invention. The article explains why the invention is of interest in a simple manner. It’s just one of the many intriguing scientific stories that the company highlights on its GE Reports site.

GE Reports Homepage

Great curators

Journalists know what your customers want to read, so it stands to reason that they make excellent content curators. They are able to not only write content, but also find other industry-related stories that your audience would like.

HSBC, the banking conglomerate, has a great example in the form of its Business Without Borders site. The journalists behind these pages not only generate original content, but also highlight other stories that are of interest to its financial services-minded audience. The site looks and feels like a news website, not a promotional corporate site.

HSBC Global Connections Homepage

All of these examples elevated the company’s content to a new level. Brand journalism can help break down the wall between corporate and customers and make a company more accessible to consumers. Good content like this translates into readers, and in the end, that means better brand awareness.

We’d love to hear your take on the importance of brand journalism. Tell us about your experience with brand journalism in the comment section below.

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About Lisa Furgison

Lisa Furgison is a freelance journalist and co-owner of a media company, McEwen's Media. Find her on Twitter @lfurgison.