At the end of each year there’s a surge of consideration for the future and how best to move forward. For me — and many other corporate writers types, I’m sure — that’s particularly true when it comes to content. For example, what kind of number has brand journalism done on the world of business? Has it met expectations? Today, some are calling it a social fad while others think it’s the next step in the evolution of PR.
There was an interesting discussion at this year’s Global PR Summit in Miami in which John Earnhardt, head of the corporate and social media team over at Cisco, did a nice job of hitting the realistic middle ground: “The media has been in transition for a while. There is only going to be more content produced by other sources. I’m not saying we’re the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. We’re producing content that we care about.”
The Key to All is Authenticity
As we head into 2013 I think John’s way of thinking about brand journalism and the content marketing umbrella in general is a healthy point of view. Content is explosive, there’s no stopping it, but it only offers real value if it’s authentic. Be it with a blog, a tweet, or a thirty-second video spot, projecting your true voice and core story is going to have positive effects on your audience. Regardless of form, authenticity has never been and will never be just a fad.
The more pressing question then becomes: how do we communicate authentically? At another recent panel discussion hosted by Outbrain, the answer was unanimous: content strategies should be led from in-house teams, because these are the people who have the knowledge, passion and consistent voice needed for the foundation of a story. When the message is established this way, agencies and freelancers can then come on board to help expand it. In the world of brand journalism, that means having at least one permanent editorial type to make sure everything that goes out fits in nicely with the strategy.
Ultimately, I think brands can learn many critical lessons from journalists when it comes to telling a story in today’s digital age, and that makes their lovechild, brand journalism, will remain a very important role in the future of content marketing.
What about you? Tell us about your personal content marketing journey in the comments section below and let’s get some best practices together.