What is Brand Journalism?
Brand Journalism is definitely a form of journalism that has ignited as the result of the digital and social media spark! The flames began brewing in the early 2000s when organizations recognized that visibility in the public arena helped to humanize and promote their brands as companies worthy of doing business with. Over the past decade, Brand Journalism has evolved into a quasi-public relations field that relies on savvy writers to produce multi-modal content that keeps the brand in the public eye, without appearing to be advertising or propaganda. It requires all the traditional journalistic skills to do it well, but it also mandates teh ability to navigate the world of public relations and marketing. Being able to sell yourself, your brand, and your company are critical skills that Brand Journalists need.
What are the implications for Journalism students?
Brand Journalism is going to be where the jobs are. Companies need actual writers to do more than just write. They need writers who are tech savvy enough to navigate the social platforms that exist, prepare multmodal content that builds a brand but also straddles that line between informing and ‘doing good’. These writers are marketers–just closet ones. The shift is that traditionally journalist viewed these jobs as anything but PURE journalism. This trend may actually be the economical and financial sound job that requires more than the skill set of a journalist with
traditional limited skills.
How do we prepare students for this type of career?
I think the first step is to stop teaching writing styles only. Journalist need to learn advertising, the art of the sell, branding, marketing, and how to communicate in any modality–and of course, Digital Media. Failure to have these skills is a ticket to a full time waitressing job and a part time journalism internship. Skills sets evolve in every field. It is time that we start teaching the new skills for the new journalists, especially the Brand Journalist.