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4 Pervasive Myths About Brand Journalism

Some deem it a revolutionary movement in business. Others call it marketing under another name. So what is brand journalism?

Often bandied about brand journalism has garnered a lot of attention, but not much clarity. The problem is the philosophy behind it came before the practice.

But now that brand journalism is taking root at places like Facebook and Tumblr (and, yes, at Eloqua), it’s clear it’s not just some fad. It does remain plagued by myths, which lead to misunderstandings about how brand journalism works within an organization. Here are 5 of the most pervasive myths.

1. Brand Journalism is Just PR
Your brand journalist shouldn’t be doing PR. They should be concerned with alerting people to new trends, crafting narratives, bridging the gap between internal and external experts, and teaching colleagues how to do the same. Think about it this way: Sales and marketing typically think in terms of customers and buyers; brand journalists think in terms of audience.

2. Brand Journalism is Rife with Conflicts of Interest
This is the most common argument I hear leveled against brand journalism. It’s also the most specious.

You shouldn’t hire a brand journalist to fake an objective viewpoint on you and your competitors. Your customers are smarter than that.

Brand journalists avoid conflicts of interest by being transparent about who signs their checks and by delivering editorial content that entertains or informs a brand’s audience, rather than cranking out exposes about the company’s competition.

3. Brand Journalists Bring Instant Credibility to an Organization
Hiring a reporter or editor won’t solve any credibility issues, especially if you try to claim that this employee will provide an objective viewpoint on your product space.

What they can bring is an authentic style that sounds less like a sales pitch and more like a conversation. With a background in research and interviewing, a journalist pushes to introduce third-party data and outside voices into your content.

Over time, this can help enhance your brand’s credibility as a legitimate source for information. But that credibility will erode quickly if you don’t remain above board and transparent with your followers – and so will the journalist’s tenure. 

4. Brand Journalists Have No Interest in the Brand
This is like saying a traditional editor has no interest in the reputation of their newspaper or news station. Journalists take immense pride in outlets that employ them.

Brand journalists are no different. We want to see the organizations that employ us grow and succeed, both financially and in reputation. And if we’re treated as outsiders within our organizations, the experiment will fail.

This is why cultural fit is crucial. If the reporter or editor doesn’t believe in what the brand is doing, no one will be happy: not the brand, the journalists or the audience.

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