September 18, 2017 by Pink Gunpowder
Brand journalism is used to “build awareness and affinity, set the context for follow up brand messaging, and acquire relevant audiences.” Traditional journalism is used to share neutral and unbiased news. In today’s society consumers have become very sophisticated in relation to advertising and news. Keeping this in mind, the most effective way to sell a product or idea is to marry the two together. There is a long list of positive and negative reasons for doing this, as a consequence, brand journalism holds its share of controversy. The following is a critique on the consequences and positivity surrounding brand journalism being utilized in the same sphere as traditional journalism.
When viewing brand journalism as a traditional journalist it seems as though brand journalism is slowly edging traditional journalism out. From the opposite point of view brand journalism is just a way to expand upon traditional journalism. Consumers today have become very sophisticated and the majority will recognize when they are being pushed to purchase a product and skip right by it. The new approach to marketing is to create content that informs the reader or Consumer of a subject relating to the product, in an effort to present the creators of the product as experts. A Consumer is more likely to purchase something when they feel they are being informed by experts and are not just numbers in a checkbook. Brand journalism allows the creators of a product to create an open conversation with the target audience all while informing and developing a relationship. Traditional journalists have a problem with this because the information being distributed has an endgame of lining pockets rather then helping Consumers to make informed decisions. Sam Petulla, a writer at Contently, insists that, “writing with the intent to increase ROI for business is detrimental and may come across as deceptive”. Traditional journalists write to inform not to create profit. Perhaps the biggest misconception of brand journalism is that the information presented is not legit and is only written to draw Consumers in. On the contrary, many brand journalists spend equal time researching and providing substantial fact based information to their Consumers as their traditional journalist counterparts. The problem is that unless the Consumer does their own research as well, the information presented is never a sure thing. Most Consumers will do their own research to an extent but not quite as deep rooted. This is not to say that brand journalists release false stories, the majority of brand journalists release stories that are true, however they are used to push their target audience closer to purchasing the product or service they are selling. Whereas traditional journalists are releasing news to inform, without an endgame of profit. Traditional journalists’ still have their share of bias’ though, as witnessed just in the last year with the undeniable presence of fake news. Businesses have become savvy as to how utilizing the tools, tactics, and style of journalism to inform consumers of their story and history has become an essential part of sales.
Timely, relevant, and authentic are necessary in today’s media centric world. Journalist veterans need to learn to give up a little bit of control and understand that their ideas and agendas may not match those of Consumers. Consumers who are searching and transparent are expecting the same from businesses looking to sell them something. There is no way to run from the era of brand journalism, it is part of the evolution of journalism as well as the evolution of sales. It has become ingrained in our society and journalism veterans need to learn acceptance. The ideal would be for marketers and journalists to work hand in hand. Journalists possess the ability to discover content that is newsworthy and that the Consumers would find intriguing. They know how to sniff out a good story and how to put that story into words. Marketers know what is needed to sell a product, what the benefits are when using the product, and what the negative aspects of the product are. If journalists’ and marketers’ would work hand in hand creating usable and shareable content there is no telling what could happen, as a result this could be a win/win situation for all involved. Furthermore, with the social capabilities we have today, the task of discovering what people care about has become easier and more streamlined. Social Media analysis has played a massive role in discovering the news that people are interested in hearing/reading, and discovering the products people are demanding. Just take a quick look at whatever is trending on Twitter and Facebook and you will have a birds eye view of what people care about at that exact moment in time; begin building your content around those trending topics and you have now begun a mutually beneficial relationship with your average Consumer. You have found a way in which to hook Consumers and keep them coming back for more.
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