What is Brand Journalism? The term was coined in 2004, but the definition is still being debated. Despite this, it has become an important factor in business communication. As Pullizzi wrote in 2012 – “all brands, in order to attract and retain customers, need to think and act like media companies”.
Corporate newspapers such as The Ford Times have been around since the mid-XNUMXth century. However, the digital evolution of media has elevated the importance of branded journalism to a whole new level, and with it, the ethical concerns surrounding it.
Branded journalism is the management and design of branded content from a journalistic perspective, imitating news media best practices in order to achieve competitive differentiation. Basically, business communication imitates journalism, to tell stories.
However, keep in mind that 'real' journalism is mostly about information. Therefore, branded journalism not only needs to be newsworthy, but also non-promotional. Otherwise, readers will perceive the publication as less credible, taking it as “just another advertisement” in their eyes. For this reason, Branding has to be minimal and elegant in these publications.
“Each Company is a Social Communication Company”
Today, most companies have their own writing divisions for in-house publishing. These create stories about the brand and share the company's perspective on various issues. For this reason, although it is considered a marketing tool, brand journalism is above all a PR practice.
It's about building and strengthening relationships with customers and partners, not selling products or services. Just as journalists strive to show the 'real' side of things, corporate publication must also present the true face of the company and share strong opinions. If you do all of these things, brand journalism can be the perfect way to promote transparency, admit mistakes, and spread new information.
Brand journalism can be a powerful tool in crisis situations. Because nowadays, if a company doesn't like the journalists' headlines, it can write its own headlines. Especially if your publication is honest and trustworthy.
Finally, we have to mention, the ethical problems underlying corporate publishing. Even if this is completely honest, it is misleading in nature as it mimics journalistic practices. This makes it possible for false information to be disseminated in an apparently credible format, which can erode trust in the brand and traditional media.