Breaking through the noise in the era of information overload is no easy task, yet a relatively easy solution lies in its wake: authenticity.
Your brand’s stories, told by you. Brand journalism isn’t a new trend by any means, but it still is a tactic worth not only experimenting with, but also implementing.
Trust is the driving force behind the modern marketing plan. Consider these statistics: First, 91 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand if it’s authentic.
Establishing a base of honesty with your audience creates an emotional connection, which in turn will positively affect your bottom line. Especially with Millennials, trust has been shown to carry brands far — one report cited more than 60 percent of Millennials practice brand loyalty when a connection has been created.
What’s more, Millennials are also over advertising. In fact, only 1 percent of Millennials feel a good ad will sway them to trust a brand.
Instead, 78 percent of consumers across all generations believe custom content makes a company trustworthy and demonstrates that it values their time.
As the advertising industry is clearly being called out for its negligence of duties, there are still potential customers who want to engage with your brand.
Brand journalism presents your organization as rooted in fact-based principles and efficient writing conventions; with time, it will advance today's traditional marketing department into tomorrow's modern brand newsroom. Here are four steps to instilling brand journalism into your marketing strategy:
1. Recreate all job descriptions by requiring journalistic skills
Writing skills are a commodity and are worth the search to find the best. All future job listings should require a firm grasp of journalistic style and should be tested through previous work samples and even an in-person test article.
2. Employ editorial rigor
Fact-checking, adhering to proper grammar, and focusing on editorial guidelines is nonnegotiable. The tone and tenor of your content must be unique to your organization, and as long as the content possesses integrity and is factually correct, there is an audience expectation that the content reflects the author's own opinion.
Taking an editorial stance provides an opportunity for brands to build meaningful relationships and drive audience growth.
3. Hold steady to your convictions
Will you be judged for your approach by using brand journalism? Maybe. Will you know that it is more than a trend, but rather a gateway to modern marketing? Yes.
Others will judge such a tactic, but remember: They’re holding on to a stale era along with their own insecurities.
4. Flourish from failure
When you make a mistake, admit it — your audience will appreciate the transparency. Remember Dominos’ “Our Pizza Sucks” campaign? The company admitted its product was lacking, and it kept audiences updated with how its leaders were working to fix it.
The company’s self-deprecation worked; in 2016, Dominos had a hold on 15 percent of the pizza restaurant market, up from 9 percent prior to its campaign. Being vulnerable may be the key to building loyalty and driving growth.
My team and I recently published our definitive manifesto on brand publishing, which includes our own brand journalism playbook. However, remember that brand journalism can be both efficient and a form of controlled chaos.
Our manifesto requires rapid iteration, accelerated decision-making, and fearless leaders willing to cut all ties with the traditional marketing styles. Here’s what we focus on:
Content creation and curation
Right off the bat, we established our signature quality, as well as how we would share it across owned and paid media platforms. As an example, our manifesto on brand publishing was easily placed into the software and categorized based on a variety of topics.
Since June 2017, our company has seen a 55 percent increase in traffic back to our website based on atomizing our signature content.
Social media channel
As brand journalism requires brand publishers to master distribution across multiple platforms, focus on sharing portions of your content across several targeted social channels. While a grasp of all platforms seems tedious, remember that the goal is to provide informative topic matters, and then drive readers to your website.
When you’re on social media, you know what you want to see, but you definitely know what you don’t want to see.
Creating graphics, particularly in the right color (specifically red, pink, and purple), is a good way to start, followed by selecting a nugget of copy to pull your reader in.
Finally, consider having your team share your marketing messages. People inherently trust a message when a real person is sharing it rather than an inaccessible brand; in fact, a message reaches 561 percent more people when an employee shares it.
One of our clients leverages content to meet both marketing and business metrics, including lead generation. Its brand journalism efforts allow for audiences to voluntary engage if they want to learn more about the brand and provide an email should they view content as valuable and desire to further the brand relationship.
When it comes to email chains, proceed with caution. Should a consumer offer an email address, brands must be careful not to insist they’re new audience members. The relationship must be on the consumers’ terms, not the brand’s.
Finally, analytics have been developed to ensure brands are efficiently engaging and growing their audiences. At PowerPost, we look to drive both audience growth and to increase the overall share of our industry voice. Being viewed as a category expert is critical to establishing yourself as a leader in your field, and the following analytics are essential:
· Measure and understand the spread of content, trends, and ideas.
· Garner market intelligence to drive conversions.
· Track breaking stories before they're viral.
· Benchmark the performance of your brand versus your competitors.
All in all, brand journalism requires us to focus on authentic content that serves as a magnet versus the tired approach of advertising pollution and intrusion.
Through employing a journalistic approach to brand marketing, we first and foremost focus on gathering, organizing, and constructing a narrative that attracts an audience.
Like any publication or news outlet, it is this audience growth that yields the most value. This audience is for you to own, cultivate, inspire, collaborate, and grow.
Further, an editorial ethos shines a light into the ethics of a brand, which then drives the audience's empathy and curiosity as the brand and consumer oftentimes share similar perspectives.
It is critical for brand content to be interesting and factual in order to ensure confidence and trust with the audience. The decades of intrusive advertising has consumers starving for authentic content that either entertains or educates.
Be the brand that provides its consumers with authentic, high-quality content that they want to consume by utilizing the publishing power of brand journalism.