So now that we’ve extolled the virtues of brand journalism, you’ve decided it’s time to make your debut.
The best brand journalism tip we can give is to start small and gradually add to your new media venture as your audience – and your confidence – grows. Don’t expect perfection or immediate notoriety. The process of building your audience and making an impact takes time. Every budding journalist has to take those first baby steps and stumble a bit along the way. But here are a few strategy points that will help keep you in the running without falling flat on your face.
Feature Editorial Calendar
The worst mistake most companies make in the blogosphere is lack of planning. Think like an editor and plan your feature editorial calendar for at least 6 months to a year in advance. Start by filling in your calendar with anticipated holiday sales spikes, seasonal products or services, or any other consumer shifts you can predict in advance. Work with your sales and marketing team to plan features that coincide with campaigns, but remember to leave the sales pitch at the door. Beware of stories that aim to promote your brand at the expense of value added information. Instead, include a healthy rotation of do-it-yourself “how to” tips, lifestyle articles and expert interviews that give consumers helpful advice that maximizes their experience with your product and establishes you as the go-to resource. You may also include non-product related features that support causes important to your company and consumers. What publications and blogs do you read? Follow their lead!
Timeliness is golden when competing for attention in the Twitter stream. Budget extra time in your calendar to post commentaries on breaking industry news, review new products or interview experts who can give insight into hot button topics affecting your industry and consumers.
Choose your editorial team wisely. Hire freelance writers with a nose for news. These may be your existing public relations team members who have good journalism backgrounds – if they have the ability to deprogram themselves from hollow press release language, or you may choose to hire reporters who formerly covered your industry beat with local newspapers or trade publications. As publications shrink due to the economic crunch, many writers are looking for work within the industries they’ve covered. These reporters can deliver credibility and an instant flock of followers already invested in your beat.
You don’t have to be bound to the keyboard to get your message out there. Choose a platform that allows you to diversify your blog posts with custom YouTube videos (check out Best Buy’s YouTube channel, click Technology Solutions), live video stream or post photos from industry events (try Twitpic.com for posts or UStream.tv for live streaming), or launch your own BlogRadio show. Whatever medium you feel most comfortable with – use it to your advantage! Start with elements easiest to access. If you’re a knockout public speaker, tape a video blog (aka vlog), or upload excerpts from a recent speech. Give your audience a variety of ways to hear your message and pass it on.
Once you’ve set the stage and done your homework, it’s time to start producing killer content. Take it easy. Don’t try to do everything at once, but schedule consistent, quality posts that build a steady audience and keeps them coming back for more.
Stay tuned for more tips on launching brand-related content that counts.