How Kenyan brands can utilize Brand Journalism

Recently, a video of a man hanging on a chopper did considerable rounds online. The insane act started when Wanjala (the birdman) was among the mourners who had convened in Bungoma to receive the body of a fallen prominent business man. But just as the helicopter was taking off, Wanjala clung on it to the utter disbelief of fellow mourners. Not even their deafening wails could make him think twice about his new unexpected adventure. Concerned about the well-being of his unwelcome traveler, the pilot attempted lowering the plane so that he can drop off. But it seemed fruitless; as the man was determined to hang on, probably even more determined to show his fellow mourners, a unique style of mourning the departed magnate. Anyway, dangerous heroics aside, the point made is how human life and media touches the internet. Most importantly, it exemplified the growing appetite for online content. A simple fact though; the seemingly amateurish video, adapted by mainstream TV stations as a news item, was taken on a handy mobile smartphone-as opposed to a weighty video camera.

This brings me to the just concluded MoJocon (mobile journalism conference). The conference is a leading international media forum focusing on mobile journalism, mobile content creation and mobile photography and new technology in one setting. One of the fringe topical areas during the meet up was brand journalism in the context of mobile content creation. In sum, brand journalism is marketing through journalism. In other words, it emphasizes creating stories and other informational content that highlights value from a different angle. Statistics note that seventy percent of prospective customers prefer learning about companies through their content instead of their marketing messages.brand-journalism-01 image

Usually, the usage of interviews and article based websites is synonymous with brands that embrace brand journalism. Other than articles, visual content is another developing trend, with infographics leading the pack in short, but effective, themed storytelling. Video consumption also continues to experience an upsurge, especially from mobile devices. So brands can also incorporate visual and video storytelling so as to stay a step ahead of less flexible competitors. But knowing this won’t be enough without first considering the following principles;

Blend your content. There is no need of having an isolated blog or website to brand journalism. Attempt to mix existing content to incorporate portions of brand journalism with product video demos and customer reviews. So long as you convey an honest story to build awareness or offer insight, the piece will be grouped within the category of brand journalism as opposed to advertising or marketing.

Establish trust. Brands that build trust with the content they create can sustain their presence as credible media sources for their audiences. Anything that appears too branded or marketing-focused will appear as biased and deceitful. Gather some background information and avoid putting unprofessional or baseless views.

Think creatively. Develop your videos and other content reach past marketing taking into account other topical key issues for your audience. The emphasis should always be on providing value and not making a sale.

Focus on engagement. Digital marketing involves crafting a conversation between brand and consumer. Content should not feel like a one-sided affair.      

In the event that a brand has a pool of topics that plug a missing niche for your consumers, build your own linked site to provide thought leadership and prioritize brand journalism as an alternative to over reliance of branded channels such as blogs and social media, to do the work for you. The inbound information can be used to create and qualify leads for your original site –and you could be on your way to injecting some loyalty for your products and services.

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