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How to Use Journaling as a Marketing Tool

By Marie Barnes

With the emergence of new technologies, companies began to look for more effective ways to promote their brand in the information space. It turned out that in the digital environment, corporate media and traditional advertising is no longer as effective as it was a couple or three decades ago. They are unable to compete with interactive platforms and high-quality multimedia content. The requirements not only for their form but also for their content have changed. The loyalty rates of the mass audience have dropped to the limit.

Marketers then turned their attention to those who have maximum consumer confidence. Journalism, its professional approach and tools became one of the main vectors of business modernization.

Where Brand-Journaling was established? 

One of the earliest experiences of such content marketing projects dates back to 1885 when American agricultural and road equipment manufacturer John Deere released the first issue of The Furrow magazine. Unlike other corporate publications of that time, he did not talk about the company's products and its successes, but about the agricultural industry as a whole: plant species and care, preparation for harvesting, agricultural work, as well as the capabilities of machinery and popular technologies.

This integration of commercial enterprises and niche journalism institutions was a novelty. The Furrow has succeeded in becoming an information monopolist that regularly shares useful information with its audience while at the same time unobtrusively promoting its products.

The image of John Deere as an informative and cognitive source after 132 years remains unchanged. The magazine is still published to this day. Today it is published in 12 languages in 40 countries with a circulation of 1.5 million copies.

Brand journalism - new content marketing?

Brand journalism was first seriously talked about in 2004. Larry Light, Marketing Director at McDonald's, presented the company's anti-crisis strategy at the Advertising Age conference and introduced participants to the new trends in marketing history: "In our digital era, brand journalism is an even more relevant way of communication than it was 10 years ago".

Using the example of the "I'm lovin' it" advertising campaign, Larry explained how communications based on the production of own media, help businesses expand the number of potential customers. He compared the preparation of diverse content and its distribution to traditional editorial work. Here, every journalist's material touches on a variety of readers' interests and eventually forms a single branded agenda.

According to the speaker from McDonald's, consistency, multidimensionality and journalistic are the three whales on which brand journalism rests. The first one is responsible for creating relevant and useful content (thematic articles, photo newsreels, video reports, etc.). The second one is two-way communication between the brand and the audience. The third is a professional journalistic approach to the implementation of the marketing idea.

Is it journalism?

According to the classical definition, the purpose of mass media is to inform people about socially important events and phenomena objectively, to interpret facts without distortion. However, when we talk about brand journalism, many questions arise immediately. 

A sugar producer Imperial Sugar Company has been a model brand journalist for many years. The company publishes an online publication with the same title dedicated to the problems of the sugar industry. Initially, no one could think that this highly specialized information resource would become in demand. The company's marketing director launched the web project as an experiment, gathering an initiative team of journalists near him.

The editorial staff prepared high-quality analytical materials, which attracted the attention of the expert community and market leaders. It did not hide its low economic indicators and did not embellish the picture of what is happening. On the contrary - it often emphasized the shortcomings of the company in ratings of technological development. Such honesty was rewarded by the reputation of the industry trendsetter. With the help of brand journalism, Imperial Sugar Company became recognizable and significantly increased the number of sales and deliveries.

Another benchmark example is Red Bull, an Austrian producer of energy drinks. In brand journalism, the company has achieved great success - created Red Bull Media House, a full-fledged multi-channel holding.

The publishing house simultaneously publishes several branded media: 4 glossy and popular science magazines (for example, The Red Bulletin has a circulation of 3.1 million copies), Red Bull TV, internet radio, new media, as well as music, movies, and games. Red Bull has grown from an energy drinks producer to a major media company that produces unique content on multiple platforms and simultaneously addresses business objectives.

Why does it work?

Content marketing lobbies the interests of companies with the help of a favorite journalistic technique aimed at creating fascinating stories that do not impose anything and do not oblige to anything, but in this context are associated with brand products.

In 2012, the American Public Relations Society included brand journalism in the list of 12 most important areas of PR development. This is understandable: it performs the main functions of the media (informational, cultural, recreational) and involves the audience in the company's activities. Media communications are built directly and extend the reach of potential customers, which allows brands and audience to be interesting and useful to each other.

Conclusion

New digital realities set the bar high for audience demand and increase the number of ways to consume media products. Conventional formats are being hybridized.

Brand journalism adjusts itself to these conditions and implements content projects of both traditional one-platform type (blog, newspaper, magazine, radio, television) and convergent type (website with multimedia and interactive, new media). Such information resources may be dedicated to brand themes and/or related areas.

For example, the above-mentioned Red Bull TV. The site has high-quality video content about extreme sports and energetic music, but not a word about the company's products (the site's founder). Of course, this arouses the sympathy of viewers and increases their confidence in the resource.

Brand journalism is a business tool for creating a reputation, which should be used skillfully, without forgetting social responsibility. Investments in media communications today are investments in the company's future.

You can contact our specialists to receive comprehensive consultation about implementing journaling in your marketing. Such projects lead to success, but not immediately. Media as a storytelling factory - a long-term project that will certainly do its job - will provide a caring audience and the target consumer.

Do you want many clients? Build media communications and be multi-channel!

Marie Barnes is a Marketing Communication Manager at Adsy. She also does some photo retouching work at Photza. She is an enthusiastic blogger interested in writing about technology, social media, work, travel, lifestyle, and current affairs.

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