The Power of Brand Journalism

Being an influential communicator in today’s ever-evolving media landscape can be challenging. So how can we as communicators continue to connect and engage with consumers?  Brand journalism and content marketing have exploded in recent years, making today’s communicators indispensable.

skills-4Earlier this week, I attended Ragan’s Health Care PR & Communications Summit. The pre-conference workshop, hosted by Mark Ragan, focused on brand journalism for corporate communications and how organizations are using it to connect with consumers, enhance media coverage and engage employees. Throughout the workshop, we discussed building content platforms and developing internal editorial processes, as well as how to engage consumers in your stories.

We took a deeper dive into brand journalism and the new role of the communicator from developing content strategies to turning employees and customers into brand ambassadors. Below are a few takeaways from the workshop and the role brand journalism plays in an organization.

Become the media versus asking the media to write your stories. It’s no secret the newsrooms are shrinking and journalists are becoming more strapped for time. But our stories still need to be shared. To ensure this, communicators need to develop a content strategy and write their own stories. Creating content gives brands the chance to share it on its channels and with media. So next time you have a compelling patient story, or want to position an expert as a thought-leader, try pitching the story instead of just pitching media.

A good example of brand journalism content shared during the workshop was Winnie Palmer Hospital’s Tin Man, featuring a newborn’s story after being born with a heart defect. It’s an emotional, compelling story that lets viewers inside this family’s journey from a 20-week ultrasound through their son’s birth and surgery. It’s authentic and personal and shows the power of great storytelling.

Develop an authentic, engaging content platform.
Having a news hub full of content will let customers, potential customers, media and employees see your organization as a trusted source of news. We’re all storytellers, but our stories need to be digestible and communicated through relevant channels.
Credit: Coca-ColaGlobal brands such as Coca-Cola and American Express do this incredibly well. Your organization may
not be on a worldwide level, but there are still many aspects of these platforms that you can apply to your own.

Great Content + Engagement = Success. Measuring success is so critical to ensuring the effectiveness of a story or campaign and demonstrating to senior leaderships the ROI benefits.   So how do we measure this? Mark Ragan shared four key elements for determining a successful story. Ask yourself if your content is entertaining, emotional, useful and newsworthy. And most importantly, before you hit publish, ask yourself, would you read this if it came across your desk?

It’s one thing to have great content, but the content also needs to be engaging. Content that’s engaging is shareable and meets or exceeds the business goal, whether that’s an increase in click-through rates or patient registrations, if you’re a hospital or health system.

My top takeaway from this conference was to continue asking questions, being engaged and listening to each other, whether it’s our peers, colleagues or closest friends. We are all consumers, but we often put on our “brand” hat when telling stories and forget to just talk like people. Communicators live in an incredibly fast-paced world. We need to be able to react quickly, but strategically, be on the cusp or one step ahead in order to make our stories authentic, and connect with our audiences, no matter how broad they may be.

How does your organization manage its brand journalism strategy? Share in the comments below.


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