Three Little Pigs: A Story Of Brand Journalism Tell a Story: The Three Little Pigs
Tell a Story: The Three Little Pigs
At the heart of brand journalism is storytelling. The ability to tell a good story is an essential aspect of content marketing. Humans have always used the art of storytelling as a means to convey a message. Whether that was around a campfire, a children’s tale, or in a film, a good story has been used by people to convey a message. Brands should be no different in their approach to storytelling.
Take for example the story of the three little pigs. At the heart of the children’s story is a tale of poor housing foundations. Yet told in such a narrative it allows the listener to make their own conclusion based on the story they have heard. Imagine that the three little pigs are customers. Each believes that they have the best value housing. They all face the same problem, represented by a wolf who will use his impressive lung capacity to blow down their house. There are three housing options available, one made of straw, one made of sticks and one made of bricks. As everyone who has heard this children’s story knows, it was the house made of bricks that survived the wolf’s assault.
Ultimately, this is a story about building a home on good foundations. It’s about investing in quality over an easy fix. Many brands could quite possibly be attempting to convey this message to their customer base. Nonetheless, just as you won’t grab the attention of children without the three little pigs and the wolf, why should you expect your customer to be interested in your story? Why should the public engage with your brand if you are not willing to engage them in a narrative? Just as the brick house survived, you should give an example as to why your product will serve the public better than that of your competition.
What is Brand Journalism?
Brand journalism is being adopted by companies as the future of content marketing. As more direct marketing tactics, such as banner ads, begin to lose their influence in the online space, brand journalism offers a solution to problems which companies face.
Brand journalism, in a nutshell, is marketing through journalism. Instead of promoting directly, using traditional marketing tactics, brand journalism focuses on the story. It offers the reader information, and subtly promotes a brand by weaving it into a wider narrative. By changing the approach from direct marketing, to more gently dispersing a story, brands can inform the public without appearing overbearing.
The Informed Consumer
As the information revolution has evolved, the public has become increasingly savvy with their interaction with brands. There was a time when companies ran quarter page advertisements in newspapers, twenty-second clips on television and radio and billboard campaigns on the side of the road. This was enough to convince the public about your product. The goals for companies was to develop name recognition for their brand, and therefore increase their amount of sales.
With the advance of the internet, brands were offered a whole new real estate with which they could reach the public. Banner ads and paid advertisement allowed companies to directly market a whole new audience. The public could be targeted in their own homes with a multitude of products, from a range of companies, both big and small.
However, with the growth of the online world, came an immense amount of information available to the public. The average customer now had the ability to review and research a product before they made a purchase. Thanks to online content, the public could compare your product with your rivals. This revolution in access to information has given power to your customer base. Companies have had to evolve with these changes. From this process, brand journalism was born.
McDonald’s: A Case Study
McDonald’s have been hailed as the pioneers of brand journalism. In the early 2000’s the company witnessed a fall in sales and a bad image reputation. In 2004 an award-winning documentary entitled ‘Super Size Me’ was released. Directed and featuring Morgan Spurlock, it follows the 30-day diet plan of the protagonist as he eats nothing but McDonald’s food. Highlighting the impact that fast food was having on the American public, Spurlock, demonstrated the physical and mental impacts of McDonald’s type food. By the end of the 30 days, he had gained almost 25lbs and claimed to have suffered from depression and a loss of sex drive.
In the fallout from the film, there was public outrage towards McDonald’s. In stepped Larry Light, CMO of McDonald’s to turn the tide of outrage. The tool he used was brand journalism. Instead of bombarding the public with traditional advertising in an attempt to save its skin, Light used a different approach. He took the consumers behind the scenes and showed the people behind McDonald’s produce. Light introduced the public to the potato farmers and the beef farmers that supply McDonald’s with their product. He made McDonald’s transparent to the public, demystifying the process of how they create their food. From the dialogue, Larry Light created a new means of engaging with the public, and brand journalism entered the mainstream.
Think Outside The Box
Brand journalism might be a new genre of marketing, but it is something that brands have been doing unwittingly for years. Every political party is staffed by a war-room of spin doctors, attempting to tell a story about their leaders. Sports teams are well versed in the art of storytelling, often to throw off opposition as to their tactics. Companies are now becoming aware of the power of telling a story, and benefits that this can have for your brand.
Just look at the growth of print media in the mid-to-late 19th century. As levels of adult literacy grew in industrialised nations, the number of print publications grew to accompany this. Newspaper, pamphlets and magazines were widespread. To promote new ideas, values and theories, organisations published their own newspapers. The rapid growth or organised labour movements in industrialised cities witnessed a major increase in labour publications. These newspapers were not just limited to news on trade unions, but also included sports results, entertainment guides and cooking recipes. By building organised labour into the stories of the day, trade unions were able to attract new members and grow their support base.
That is an approach that your company should take. Thinking outside the box will add value for your brand. Your existing customers and your target customers are not single facet individuals. They have an interest that expands beyond what your company offers. There is no reason why you should not mix a story about your brand with news that gathers public attention.
Media Officials owns a network of Officials branded sites. These include sites that cover topics ranging from travel to sports to the environment. Our team of writers spend their time creating unique content for our matrix of sites. We are not limited to content promotion for brands, but rather work in symbiotic relationship with companies to create compelling content. We deliver organic readers to our sites because of the authoritative content which we produce.
Brand Journalism V’s Public Relations
There was a time when the only position open to a journalist within a company was in a public relations role. That was, to respond to the publics perception of a company and try to improve it. For many working in the area of public relations or public affairs, they understand their job often involves being a firefighter. When a problem arises with the public image of a company, they are awarded the unenviable task of trying to undo the damage. For another large period, public relations professionals spend their days reaching out to media and influencers. Using traditional communications strategies they try to influence the influencers. This works for some companies, but other fail to get noticed. It is often hard to get across the key message of a campaign.
Brand journalism inverts this traditional process, by turning companies into their own news rooms. Major corporations have caught on to this development. Cisco, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle all operate newsrooms. These companies have hired journalists from established media outlets such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. These are not writers looking for a change of career, but rather journalists to work within these corporations.
Small & Medium Businesses
The problem that small and medium sized business face is that they do not have the resources available to them to develop such a newsroom. Marketing professionals are often tasked with a plethora of roles within a company. In small and medium sized companies, it is often left to a small number of marketing staff to compose all content, along with other marketing duties. Writing copy for a company blog or website takes time. Often, companies will skimp on their content is favour of more direct marketing tactics. As we have noted, such tactics are falling further and further out of favour.
Media Officials specialises in brand journalism for small and medium businesses. We recognise that companies may not have the personnel within their organisation to produce engaging content that is newsworthy. We are an outsourced newsroom for brands at an affordable price. Larger companies have the ability to staff a dedicated newsroom in-house or work with more expensive content producers. Media Officials are passionate about working with the smaller brands and creating content that will help them grow organically. Our team of brand journalists are interested in finding a story in such companies.
Making the Right Choices
Some companies will outsource their content creation to a freelance copywriter. There are many content creators offering the services on a price-per-word basis. However, it’s important not confuse content written by a copywriter with an outsourced newsroom. An essential of brand journalism is that your content is not just written in a news style, but is also newsworthy. You could have some great content on your company’s blog, but if it is not written for the right audience, then it won’t achieve the results for you. Proper brand journalism is more complex than just writing a story about your company. It involves an awareness of the context in which your company lives. Research of competitors, whether they be local or global, requires in-depth analysis. From that work, the story of your company can grow.
Choosing the Right People
Brand journalism is still journalism at its core. Though the writer might be creating content that is biased towards a brand, they should still approach a story with the values and integrity of an investigative reporter. Therefore, when you are deciding how your company should approach brand journalism, keep in mind that you should hire the right people for the job. You would not hire an environmental engineer to focus on fixing machine parts in your manufacturing plant. Just the same, you should not hire someone unqualified to write about your company. The job of a brand journalist is not to write ad copy, but to write a story. They are two very different things, and choosing the correct outlet to carry out this work on your behalf is what will separate you from your rivals.
It might appear like a frightening prospect to hand over control of your brand’s image to a journalist. While companies try their hardest to be positive and peppy, journalists are trained to be cynical and questioning. Recognise this as a benefit. The job of a journalist is to get to the root of a story and separate the bluff from the truth. Not only will this afford your company a better vision of what your brand looks like, it will also endear you to the public. People admire honesty, and with that honesty comes credibility. A credible brand is a brand that will be sustained for a long period of time.
Media Officials operates with an in-house team of brand journalists. We are staffed with a team of writers, editors and account managers who craft a story from beginning to end. Media Officials are not concerned about producing a cost-per-word story, but instead building content that is unique and compelling. We are proud of our network of Official brand sites and believe that our integrity as media commentators separates us from others in the business.
Your companies market is likely a crowded field. Very few brands have the luxury of dominating a single market, and most face competition from a range of other companies. In this environment, it can be hard to have your voice heard. You are also most likely very passionate about what you do. You have spent a large deal time learning the intricacies of your market, and improving your brand and product so it will be the best possible value to your customers. Yet, how will the public know of this hard work if you are not willing to tell them?
Why brand journalism is being adopted by so many companies is because it develops thought leadership. Recently, Apple announced that they were launching an online journal detailing the work their developers were carrying out into machine learning technology. This was an important move because Apple has traditionally been very secretive about innovations they are working on. However, as a result of this culture of secrecy, they have been accused by commentators of falling behind rival companies such as Google. The search engine giant has always kept the public abreast of developments, securing their place as thought leaders.
That is why brand journalism is important for your company. It allows you to stake a claim as thought leaders. Not only are you trying to sell an existing product, you can also have your say on new developments in your industry. That adds credibility to your brand. Customers will recognise that you are not only concerned about making a profit from what you are attempting to sell, but you are also concerned about the future of the market.
Work with Media Officials to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. We operate a wide network of sites which offer your brand to take a lead in the market. Our team of brand journalists will work with you to enhance your credibility. Our writers are experts in the industry which they write about, and are aware of current trends and developments. Working with us will allow your brand to stay on top of changes in your industry and reap the benefits of being a thought leader.