Brand Journalism



Years ago, as a journalist for a national magazine, I had the opportunity to interview music legend Jimmy Buffett. Now, I happen to be a Jimmy Buffett fan (we are affectionately known as Parrot Heads), so this was a pretty special interview for me!



Jimmy Buffett has an incredible business mind and a true entrepreneurial spirit. (There are unsubstantiated rumours that he is related to Warren Buffett, so the business part of his brain kind of makes sense.) He was one of the first in the music business to embrace digital technology; he recognized the coming shift in the music industry and left his big name label to start his own. He has ownership in two successful restaurant chains (Margaritaville and Cheeseburger in Paradise), interests in hotels and he just opened the Margaritaville Casino in Las Vegas. He still performs worldwide, has made over 30 albums, written several books (four made it to the New York Times Bestseller list), and he pilots his own plane… the list of his accomplishments goes on and on. And, of course, above all else, Jimmy is a storyteller. We talked about storytelling a lot in our interview.



I recently pulled out my interview notes and took a look at what Jimmy told me back then. His key points about storytelling are relevant, even for those of us who tell stories in a more corporate environment than Jimmy does.



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Once you understand what the story currently being told about your organization focuses on (see last week’s post on “The art and science of telling a great corporate story”), the next step is to identify the storyline that you want to tell. There are many story structures that you can use to tell the story in a way that engages your audience. While, at first glance, some of these approaches may seem a little “Hollywood” – keep in mind that show business is a very successful industry that is based on telling stories.



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Telling your organization’s story isn’t as easy as some would think, but it certainly isn’t hard. It does take some time and effort, but the results provide excellent return on investment.



The fact is, stories are being told about your organization all the time. Whether the stories are good or bad, they are being told by clients or customers, by service providers, employees and contractors (and their families and friends), by competitors, your board members, government officials and by the media.



When we start working with a client, we often do a little bit of research and find some of the stories that are being told about the organization… Please visit our blog to read the rest of the post.

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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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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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