Brand Journalism





January is an interesting month. People are setting goals in both their personal and professional lives. It’s a time of new beginnings, of focusing (or refocusing), of excitement and hope. We’re no different here at AHA. We took some time over the holiday season to set our goals and to outline what we want to achieve, experience and create in 2012.



One of my professional goals is to work with more clients who realize that great PR is about building relationships, about educating and informing, and about engaging with your target market or stakeholder group. Social media has made a huge impact on public relations. There are many avenues for great PR and they include traditional approaches and new media. One of the areas I am excited about is in the area of brand journalism. Brand journalism allows organizations to create interesting, useful pieces – video, articles, Q&As and more – that share relevant information that is of value to the stakeholder group.



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Technology makes it easy to share content. Your website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites provide the ability to publish your content. Where you publish depends on where your stakeholder group spends time and it is important to identify how they want to interact with your organization. But how do you create engaging, relevant, timely content?



Create an Editorial Schedule

Do you have a schedule of the content you will upload? A little forethought goes a long way when you are busy and need content or an idea in a hurry.



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At AHA, we spend a great deal of time working with clients to create interesting, informative and engaging content. It isn’t about what the client organization wants to say as much as it is about what their community or stakeholder group is interested in hearing, discussing, and learning.



For some organizations, this is a big paradigm shift. It can, in fact, be culture shifting. There is a perception with the fast-paced, 24/7 cycle, and user-generated content online, that organizations have lost control of their “message.” When in fact, the social media era (in my humble opinion) should be seen as providing the most opportunity to let your target market (and others you haven’t even considered) in on the conversation about your brand, organization, and product or services.



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At a recent client brainstorming meeting about brand journalism and how we could better tell the story of the organization, there was a senior staff member that was clearly not engaged in the process. For the purpose of this blog post, we’ll call her VP Skeptical. She sat back with her arms folded, checked her BlackBerry every minute or so, and in pure Survivor Tribal Council fashion – rolled her eyes when someone else said something that she didn’t agree with. Yet VP Skeptical didn’t speak up. So I asked her what she felt was the best story they could tell. Her response was interesting. She said (with a little bit of sarcasm in her voice): “I just don’t see the value in any of this. Why can’t we just buy an ad?”



That was an interesting comment and one I felt we had to address. As communicators, we often see the value and rationale for telling an organization’s story through a range of approaches such as media relations, videos, articles, etc. Not everyone’s brain works that way and it’s important to engage in discussion around this.



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