Brand Journalism Controversy and Conflicts

What is Journalism?

Journalism involves researching, reporting, collecting, writing, editing, and spreading news for the worldwide audiences. But is brand journalism the same as journalism? Absolutely. From what we see everyday, political journalism is journalism, sport journalism is also considered journalism, blogs about local or international issues are journalism, even Facebook or Twitter posts are also journalism. Brand journalism is a company investing in content and becoming a provider of news. It is more, much more, than a series of press releases and product launches. Just like the broadcasters’ purpose is to increase audiences, brand journalism is to raise the awareness from the audiences and to build a strong connection between the publishers and the readers. In order to establish readers’ trust, brand journalism has to be based on facts, it has to be fast and topical, new content should be generated often consistently last but not least, it must give value to the readers. Brand journalism must stand up to these finest values of journalism to encourage loyalty from the audiences and keeping a good relationship with them.

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Journalism Nowadays

20 years ago, journalism was all about long paragraphs and lectures, it contained researches and facts and by putting them together, news is formed. Nowadays, readers and publishers have a closer relationship; readers are becoming “users” slowly, which means journalism is now formed by the combination of publishers’ opinions and the readers. Nowadays, people communicate with each other by sharing stories related to one another. Advancement in technology gave us access to share greater amount of stories, and we tends to make our decisions based on those stories. Story is the essence of communication, always has been and always will be.

Evolution of Brand Journalism

Ten years ago, search was the big marketing trend. Five years ago, it was social media. Today, its is brand journalism. Brand journalism is already well established and used widely; it’s no longer a new term that people are not familiar with. According to researches in LEWIS, 86 percent of companies’ use content marketing and 90 percent of non-media companies create original content in some shape and now more and more are creating content that attracts the audiences. Ten years ago, journalists refer to those professional reporters, writers or publishers. Now technology has torn down the wall and made new rules for journalists. A newsroom reporter is still definitely journalist, a writer at a business publication is a journalist, a blogger online is a journalist, and even any citizens with mobile devices at a news scene are considered journalists. Especially through the Internet nowadays, people who uses journalism skills and spread stories are journalists. Ultimately, it is all about telling stories and spreading it to the audiences that they are aiming for, but the core is about earning and keeping the readers’ interest.

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The Power of Brand Journalism

News are like stories, it has a beginning, and climax and then an ending, a beginning should start with a catchy title, something that will grab the readers’ attention right away and then move on to an interesting body paragraph and continue through the rest of the article. While brand journalism is becoming the standard for both large and small companies, a lot of businesses are still trying to understand how to use brand journalism effectively. Brand journalists must combine an authoritative voice, consumer education and comprehensive marketing integration. Good brand journalism should tell a good story, consumers will not be easily fooled by advertising disguises, but a good story in brand journalism is the best and effectively way to catch the audiences’ attention.

The History of Journalism

Back in 1895, John Deere published a customer magazine with useful content just for farmers called Furrow, but now the magazine reaches more than 2 million people across the world. In 1959, NASA signed a contract allowing Life magazine and World Book Science Services to have exclusive coverage of the personal stories of its astronauts and their families, demonstrating the importance of collaborating with traditional media outlets. In 1968, NASA sold the Apollo Lunar Program to the American public using professional journalists. The most well known brand journalism happened in 2012, Coca-Cola launches a new corporate news website featuring articles on entertainment, the environment, health and sports, as well as opinion columns, video and audio pieces. It vows to kill the traditional press release by 2015. Brand journalism is not brand new, when NASA decided to put a man on the moon, one of the first and biggest marketing has just began. By selling stories about the importance of space and the stories about those astronauts and their families members brought global attention, people started desiring for more, more information and more stories. As consumers become more and more savvy, they don’t want to be interrupted by advertisements, even though it might be disguised as journalism that is why it is very important for brand journalists to educate the consumers, use expert voices and create stories that people wanted to see.

Brand Journalism is not Brand New

Brand journalism takes many forms and people always have a hard time understand it and writers also have a hard time defining it to the audiences. It is difficult to define when exactly where, when or how brand journalism started, but there is not doubt that NASA definitely gets the credit for redefining the traditional approach to marketing. Since then, big companies such as Coco-Cola, MasterCard, Cleveland Clinic have taken the reins in producing their own news through corporate website.

Traditional Journalists vs Brand Journalists

Brand journalism has expanded its popularity and presence in the social media field and no doubt that journalist plays an important role in there. However, traditional journalists and brand journalists divided in controversy over brand journalism. On one side, traditional journalists believe that brand journalism is misleading to the consumers and on the other hand, brand journalists sees brand journalism as a necessity tosustain operations and fund their traditional journalistic projects. Traditional journalists function more as independent and objective reporters, they create contents based on what information they collected and present the combination of what they found and what they think to the audiences, while brand journalists only create content that is well connected with a brand, and basically what they write needs to reflect in some way with the company brand story. Traditionally, businesses tell their stories through print media, like newspapers and billboard or they deliver the stories through broadcast formats like the radios. However, the improvement of modern technology had a huge impact of print advertising, especially for organizations like newspapers. In the video “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Native Advertising”, John Oliver notes that entire “new media” organizations, like BuzzFeed, depend solely on revenues generated through this type of marketing. This differs from newspaper organizations, which are slow to adapt to the emerging methods by which audiences consume information. There is a line between the debate with traditional journalism and brand journalism. A lot of traditional journalists do not believe that brand journalists are capable of creating new and informative stories that are credible and amazing. But for those journalists who have dabbled in both traditional journalism and brand journalism claimed that comparing to traditional journalists, brand journalists are experts in the knowledge they present.

Advantages and Disadvantages

No matter how popular brand journalism has become, there will always be advantages and disadvantages. A brand journalist was slowly build a strong understanding of content distribution since they will have more opportunity to closely connect with advertising professionals to uphold the editorial voice of the brand while also satisfying the needs of the audiences. Traditional journalism does not need to come across with this kind of collaboration so brand journalists have a better and a stronger understanding of how to create content with amplification in mind. Secondly, working with brands can be an amazing resume for your portfolio. Working with brands can definitely be an incredible experience to showcase, as a brand journalist, you will have plenty of opportunities to write for big companies, this can help you build a more engaging personal brand that will lead to more successful editorial work in the future. Last but not least, by consistently working on branded content projects to satisfy the audiences, brand journalists are able to understand the readers better, therefore, brand journalists are able to create more compelling information for them in the future. This approach allows brand journalists to build a better understanding of the audiences that they are writing for and by this, finding new valuable content to engage the audiences will become an exciting challenge. These metrics will help brand journalists develop a stronger understanding of their audience and broaden the horizons of their career as a writer. Brand Journalism was created in order to provide audiences with value beyond just an advertisement. Yet people reach out to real journalist when they want to be certain about a subject matter. This has a negative effect on brand journalism because people still have their doubts about the content that they received.

Brand Journalism is Unstoppable 

Advanced technology is one the most important reason that boost the popularity of brand journalism, the Internet gave access to everyone to bypass the media and deliver their information to the public directly. This is why people nowadays have a hard time trusting what they hear and what they see through brand journalism. People support and argue about the evolution of brand journalism, but it all goes back to what way people feel the most comfortable receiving the news from, whenever choosing a news source, it is important to verify the reliance of the source. Whether the news is editorial or brand journalism, as long as the facts are accurate and truthful any source can be reliable.

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REFERENCES

Barakat, C. (2014, June 20). The History of Brand Journalism [Infographic]. Retrieved August 24, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/history-brand-journalism-infographic/199999

Gaines Buchler, E. (2015, July 30). What Is Brand Journalism and Is It Right for You? Retrieved August 24, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.rightsourcemarketing.com/blogs/brand-journalism-better-than-the-real-deal/

Lofgren, D. (2015, April 27). The Power Of Brand Journalism | ComPRehension. Retrieved August 24, 2015. Retrieved from http://comprehension.prsa.org/?p=6904

Maxwell, L. (2015, May 24). Traditional Journalists, Brand Journalists Divided In Controversy Over Brand Journalism. Retrieved August 24, 2015. Retrieved from https://ldmaxwell.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/traditional-journalists-brand-journalists-divided-in-controversy-over-brand-journalism/

Scott, T. (2012, August 27). What is Brand Journalism? Retrieved August 24, 2015. Retrieved from http://brandjournalists.com/social-media/what-is-brand-journalism/

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