What is brand journalism, and why should you care about it?
Because traditional media is dying, and brand journalism offers a way for you to tell your story, the way you want it told.
The weekday circulation for daily newspapers—both print and digital—in the United States dropped 8 percent in 2016, marking the 28th consecutive year of declines. Print circulation fell from a high of nearly 60 million in 1994 to a combined 35 million for print and digital today.
Additionally, the people’s lack of trust in mass media is contributing to the decline of newspapers, television and radio. In 2016, around the election campaign and the emergence of fake news, Republicans who said they have trust in the media plummeted to 14 percent from 32 percent the previous year. This is on top of the fact that Americans’ trust and confidence in the media has been steadily eroding since 2007, according to Gallup.
The advancement of technology has also played a role. Digital progression has allowed our society to pen and publish our thoughts in a moment’s notice. Between Twitter, blogs and podcasts, you can receive the latest updates from a cadre of other news sources. Not to mention create your own news and stories.
We are no longer bound to the ink of the press. Technology has torn down the walls and changed the game. We are all in the media business now.
With that being said, brand journalism allows us to be a leading player in the game. Brand journalism is creating and publishing journalistic content for your own company, rather than waiting for the media to do it. Companies now have the tools (websites, blogs, emails, social media, etc.) at their disposal that allows them to directly communicate with their customers using journalism-style storytelling.
Different from content marketing, which seeks to capture interest to generate leads and conversion, brand journalism focuses on storytelling and creating honest, meaningful connections with the audience. These stories are “human” and authentic.
People do not want to see a myriad of pop-up ads on a website that preach marketing jargon to them; they want to read real and interesting stories they can relate to and that provide value to their lives. A well-told story is the best way to get your message across.
And who better to relate to people than the ones who grow their food?
With brand journalism on the rise, agriculture has an opportunity to tell the industry’s story without the journalistic filter. However, jumping into a new trend can be intimidating. Using case studies from some of the most successful food and drink giants in the world, here are some tips on how to use brand journalism effectively at your company:
• Be Transparent. McDonald’s, who is said to be the founder of brand journalism, squashed rumors about a secret contract they had with Coca-Cola to make their soda taste better. The fast food chain investigated their customers’ concerns and provided factual evidence and information through social media and the web. They were transparent and honest which helped them mitigate what could have turned into a public relations crisis.
Misinformation is not uncommon in agriculture, especially when it comes to food safety and plant breeding. Brand journalism allows you to share the truth, while helping you build a loyal following that will be an advocate for you and your industry when issues arise.
• Don’t make it all about your company, make it about the people. Starbucks uses brand journalism to tell the stories of their employees. For example, in 2014, they shared the story of the employee whose artwork was used for their annual holiday mug. By focusing on a person in the company, rather than the organization itself, readers were able to better relate to the brand, which expanded their exposure and helped lead to an increase in sales.
This is a win-win. By highlighting the goodwill of your employees, you not only create a positive work environment and make your employees feel valued, but your audience will trust you more. When consumers see your label in the marketplace, they will remember the stories you told about real people and will be more willing to purchase your product.
Brand journalism helps to get the conversation started, but do not forget to utilize social media to keep it going. Simply providing content is not enough; you have to get the content in front of the right audience. If you need assistance getting started with brand journalism or need tips on bolstering your social media presence, the Western Growers Communications Team is here to help.
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