The winds of change are blowing strongly enough that almost anyone should have felt by now: 2014 will be the year of brand journalism. Let’s consider a few tidbits. First, prominent journalists are jumping ship:
Understandable, given the turmoil in the traditional media:
And the concept itself is gaining traction:
As part of the bigger picture of content marketing, which has endured a small amount of decline in favorability and sentiment over the past year:
This is what leads me to conclude that 2014 will be the year of brand journalism. As content marketers struggle to keep up with the demands of creating content all the time that’s high quality, increasingly they’ll look to professionals who can maintain that pace without breaking a sweat – journalists.
Brands are also realizing that they must capture their audiences’ attention, that they must take responsibility for the creation and maintenance of those audiences. Relying on the traditional media to do so at a time when traditional media is declining is folly at best.
The tools, technologies, and methods for brands to become publishers and media in their own right are getting better by the day. Curating your own Flipboard magazine or new Twitter custom timelines is relatively simple, requiring no technical experience beyond the bare basics. Podcasting, blogging, and video are within easy reach of everyone.
So how should you approach your 2014 media strategy? Three things for you to consider:
1. You are a publisher. You are a media company. You are responsible for your own audience, for its creation, curation, and capture. PR firms like SHIFT can help you grow that audience, but ultimately the responsibility of keeping it is yours.
2. Get comfortable with the tools of being a publisher. There’s no cost to trying out a Twitter chat. There’s no risk in setting up a Flipboard magazine. Try them out, roll them out to a dedicated focus group of your brand’s best fans, and see what the reaction is. If you’ve got really loyal super-fans, invite them to participate and help curate on behalf of your brand.
3. Consider hiring an actual journalist or two who understand the content production process and can bring their own discipline and best practices to your organization. Not only do you have to maintain a high pace of content publication, you have to create better quality content than the traditional media outlets.
If you can excel at all three of these ideas, 2014 will be a banner year for you while your competitors suffer under their own inertia. As always, if you’d like more in-depth guidance, SHIFT is happy to help you.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology