Are We Doing Brand Journalism, Content Marketing, or Both?

2. Are the following tactics “content marketing,” “brand journalism,” or both?

a) Posting a photo to Facebook, inviting likes and shares

Posting a “like if…” graphic is "content," right? It can be effective to get your brand some eyeballs, if it goes viral. But who can predict that? Can you make something viral? And where is the directional research that shows you how to do it, that proves it will be effective before you hit send? You can post links to content on Facebook along with a great photo, but you better be sure your destination site is ready to hang on to visitors and qualify them if you want to see results. And how often do you see that done well?

b) Sending a single-sponsor feature-driven magazine through the mail to a controlled circulation

For decades, this is how I believe brand journalism has been defined, especially before the dawn of the digital age. That means, I think, we can learn storytelling and customer relation tactics from this tradition, and we have more collective knowledge in this business than we think. We are not in “Day One.”

c) Posting sponsored content to a news site with the same look and feel as straight news

Native advertising, while it has been successful for many brands and sites, draws on the credibility of established journalistic sources by aping their look, feel and voice. Is that a positive thing? Depends on who you ask. I say it’s probably not, and that over time, consumers will feel deceived. And even if consumers don’t pick up on it, the FTC may nip the practice in the bud anyway.

d) A white paper sent via email, if you’ll supply your email address to its sponsor

If the white paper does nothing but promote a proprietary service, even through well-executed applied research, it’s probably closer to content marketing.

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