Brand Journalism

HSBC has developed an online editorial style website that uses brand journalism. There are differing opinions on the value and benefit of the site. I have to say we lean towards the side that says this is a great site. I think it can be easy to criticize without taking into context that it is brand journalism – not journalism. While the stories should be credible, balanced, multi-faceted and provide value, it is still a brand that is responsible for creating this content.

Step by step, we are moving into a more credible approach to sharing the stories of our organizations.

This article is worth a read and the site is worth a visit.

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I just read a piece on Ragan.com that I just have to share. It talks about what not to do when pitching journalists. It always amazes me when I see such common sense criteria put forward. It feels like as communicators—especially as media relations professionals—not doing these things should be pretty much standard in our roles. You should read this and if you are doing any of these things—stop immediately (and call me!).



One of the challenges our industry faces is that we aren’t taken seriously or we aren’t trusted by reporters. I can’t tell you how much I dislike the word “spin” when it is used in context of what we do as communicators. It’s a nasty, dirty word as far as I am concerned. As many regular readers of this blog know, I spent a great deal of my career working at Maclean’s. I worked with some of the best journalists in the country and I had the opportunity to learn a great deal from them.



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One of the most powerful tools that we have used to help educate and engage stakeholders is an article. We often write articles for our clients – about their organization, about successes and challenges (and how they overcome the challenges to achieve success), and even about new products and services. We distribute the piece to traditional and online media for use – free of charge. We use it on the organization’s website, in industry association or other relevant newsletters, and we often share links to the article with a range of stakeholders. We’ve had great success in this area.



One of our key assets is that we have several people on our crew that come from the journalism world. Another is that we write the articles in an editorial style. It is researched, balanced and well written.



As simple as it sounds, there are times when we have to explain why we take an editorial approach and why it matters. When organizations are used to using marketing or sales copy, it can be a challenge for them to embrace a more balanced, authentic way of telling their story. They just aren’t used to it. For some organizations it is a culture shift.



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Ragan’s PR Daily has a really good blog post on brand journalism. Here is a snippet from Shel Holtz’s piece, who we saw present at a Ragan social media conference two years ago.

“Marketing is what companies do to promote and sell products or services. Organizations produce plenty of it. Brand journalism, though, is different. This is content that could be inspiring, clarifying, funny, useful, or just plain interesting. Because it has these characteristics, people will want to link to it, share it, and talk about it precisely because it’s not trying to pitch something. As soon as it begins to smack of The Pitch, it loses its appeal.”

Click here to read more. Shel “gets” it!

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