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Ike Pigott: How to Do Brand Journalism

When several area newspapers stopped publishing daily, Alabama Power’s media coverage dropped, recalls Ike Pigott, the company’s spokesman and a star speaker at Demand Success last week.

As a regulated monopoly, Alabama Power doesn’t need need media coverage to build SEO or raise awareness. However, it relies on the coverage to increase customer confidence and satisfaction.

To solve the problem, Alabama Power decided to become its own media outlet. It would report and distribute news, not only during outages and other emergencies, but day in and day out.

This specialized form of content marketing is called brand journalism. Using it, Alabama Power has engaged customers, generated goodwill and built trust.

Here are some highlights from Ike’s Demand Success presentation on what brand journalism is, what it isn’t and how your business can benefit.

What Brand Journalism Is:

1. Embedding the skill sets of a news organization into your business.

2. Using a neutral point of view to give the stories that you choose to cover the same journalistic polish that readers expect from a traditional news source.

3. Telling stories about the humans in your organization to become more appealing to customers.

What Brand Journalism Isn’t:

1. Puffery masquerading as news. Instead of talking about how wonderful you are, tell stories that humanize your company.

2. Boilerplate text that seems rote. Make the stories you report of actual news value.

3. A news release repurposed as journalism. Content for brand journalism is bigger and better, using more sources and references.

4. Content marketing, though it has a lot in common with it. Brand journalism covers the people and things your organization does every day to make your company appear more human.

How to Do Brand Journalism

Alabama Power - Brand Journalism1. Get buy-in

Anybody who creates content for your organization – blog posts, emails, internal newsletters, etc. – has to buy into the idea of brand journalism and contribute in as many media as possible.

All content ideas must enter a single funnel where they are examined to see if they are appropriate for publication and what medium best tells the story.

2. Develop a strategy

Understanding what the best stories are and how to tell them are only one part of the strategy.

Creating brand journalism also requires distributing the story on as many channels as you can, including social media, and measuring the results with analytics to inform your future content production.

3. Deliver quality content

The only way readers will accept your content is if it matches the quality of a traditional news organization. This means you must break down silos to produce better content on the front end and polish the story and the presentation on the back end.

4. Assign roles

When a business practices brand journalism, people’s job descriptions change. You will need people to actively scout stories that you can report, a content creator to submit a first draft and polishers to give it that finishing touch.

WordPress allows you to assign different roles to people, including administrator, editor, author and contributor. With those roles, people have different capabilities on the site, safeguarding against accidents.

5. Demand success

Just as a news organization tries to be the best and earn page views, so must your team of brand journalists.

Check analytics to determine if you have covered the right news, discover which stories resonate with your readers and learn what social strategies work the best.

For more tactics and insight from Demand Success, click here.

Image: Divya Ooi

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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