What Is Brand Journalism?

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What is brand journalism? What is it good for (if anything)? Why should you care about the tactic?

Some would say you shouldn’t care. Brand journalism is no different than content marketing. It doesn’t offer any gains that can’t be found with the other. However, brand journalism is different.

It’s just hard to tell the difference at times because some communicators try to differentiate between the two by their outputs. That is, they attempt to create a dividing line that says blog posts belong in one camp while interviews belong in another.

It’s impossible. It’s like trying to create a line dividing your side of the room from your college roommate’s. Inevitably, somebody’s shoes, dishes, or homework crosses the border. War may or may not break out.

The difference between brand journalism and content marketing isn’t to be found in outputs. Rather, the difference is found in approach and outcomes. Those are the true dividing lines, not the outerwear.

To return to the roommate example, you may wear your roommate’s boots, but that doesn’t make you your roommate. You have your own reasons for wearing the boots, no matter how lofty or low those reasons may be.



Brand journalism’s goals are to:

  • Build awareness and affinity;
  • Set the context for follow-up brand messaging (retargeting); and
  • Acquire relevant audiences.

In contrast, content marketing seeks to:

  • Capture and nurture interest;
  • Generate leads and conversions; and
  • Build loyalty with existing audiences.

Think of it this way. Brand journalism starts people on a journey with your brand. Content marketing nudges people along and often is the final touch point that motivates people to buy.


Content marketing and brand journalism also differ greatly in approach. The first begins with a marketer’s mindset. It’s always thinking about products and services and the best way to share them with interested audiences. While it may deliver relevant and useful content, it’s always content geared toward moving people closer to your brand through filling out a form or asking for more information.

Brand journalism aligns more closely with traditional journalism, though not entirely. Traditional journalism aims to be entirely objective; brand journalism does not. It has an objective. It’s trying to tell a story that builds brand and attracts relevant audiences.

Even so, brand journalism is much more interested in the effect upon audiences. It wants to tell a good story over providing useful content alone. It seeks to inspire and to lodge itself in the minds and hearts of readers and/or viewers.

Brand Journalism in Actionbrand-journalism-direction

For example, Red Bull uses brand journalism every time they publish “The Red Bulletin,” a slick print and digital magazine targeted toward their primary demographic, young males. The publication features little, if any, Red Bull products. Rather, the brand shares stories about celebrities and action sports athletes, as well as fashion and lifestyle content.

The tactic works. By not advertising themselves, readers do the marketing and advertising for them. They share the content with their friends and family, leading to word of mouth (WOM) and increased interest in Red Bull’s products and lifestyle.

Outcomes and Approaches, not Outerwear

And that’s more so an outcome of brand journalism than it is content marketing. Even if the two still borrow clothes or dishes from each other, they are different. Their approaches and outcomes make it so.

Images via Pixabay

About Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media. When she isn’t researching, writing, and editing blog posts and white papers, she writes poetry and essays, draws her favorite Write Right character, and plans what art form to study next. She’s based in Austin, Texas and can be found on Twitter @erinmfeldman.

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