I’m not particularly tall or talented at basketball, but I used to write professionally about the NBA. I don’t have a background in politics or advanced degree in economics, but I regularly reported on city government, business development and real estate. In fact, I’ve never worked in most of the industries I covered as a journalist because, well, I worked as a journalist. And – although there is a fairly compelling “those that can’t do, teach; those that can’t teach, commentate on” argument to be made against it – that’s sort of the point.
Journalists typically have beats, or specialty areas, that they cover and build a substantial level of knowledge in, but they are often not industry experts themselves and almost always on the outside looking in. In the news world, that’s partly to uphold journalists’ watchdog role of maintaining accountability, partly due to availability, partly the simple reality of limited resources. But largely, it’s because they are very good at gathering, distilling and communicating ideas and information – in many cases, better at it than the individuals, organizations and entities involved are.
For better or worse, there’s a reason why a lot of NFL fans don’t know the intricacies of the Inverted Tampa 2 Zone Coverage defensive scheme their favorite team is playing. Or why voters don’t read 200-page legislative bills on infrastructure funding in their state. It’s because that information is too dense, granular, uninteresting or just irrelevant to their daily lives. It’s journalists’ job to make the material clear, accessible, interesting and relevant for news consumers.
The same goes for businesses, brand journalists and content consumers. While the framework and relationships may be a bit different – brand journalists usually are hired by the business to write about or for them and the interactions are more collaborative (or, at least, less adversarial) – the goal is the same: to deliver accurate, original, high-quality information that is useful, educational or entertaining for a target audience of customers or prospective customers. To tell a story.
Humanizing your business
Brand journalists are skilled writers capable of ascertaining, digesting and conveying information. Because they are not entrenched in the field of the business they’re working with, they don’t get overly entangled in the details or complexities and approach the job with a perspective that is closer to the audience that will be consuming the content. They humanize your business, finding the captivating, emotionally connective features that actually resonate with people. They tell the story of your brand in an authentic, meaningful way that sounds different because it is different – and thus produces a different impact.
For B2C companies, the objective is not to speak to other industry professionals, but to answer questions and offer solutions to ordinary readers that are searching for them every day. Brand journalists can do that in an engaging and relatable way that is more genuinely persuasive than the stilted, sales-y advertising messages, which get belched out of some internal marketing document. For B2B companies, the subject matter might be a little more sophisticated and require a higher level of attention and grasp. Rather than 101-type “what is (blank)” blogs, think deeper “why” and “how to” articles.
But fear not: that’s exactly where brand journalists come in and shine.
Naturally curious and communicative with a mind for absorbing new things – literally, that’s where the word “news” comes from – and a knack for expressing them, brand journalists can interrogate a topic and get to the bottom of it (after all, the bottom is closer to where most B2B content consumers are in the marketing funnel anyway).
Skilled interviewers produce powerful content
But, you say, my trailblazing enterprise company is on the mind-bending cutting-edge of our impenetrably abstruse and convoluted industry and we use unintelligibly esoteric technical jargon. How can some brand journalist comprehend and then explain it to others in a coherent, compelling and contextual way that actually helps us? Great question! The answer, as simple as it sounds, is interviews.
Brand journalists are inquisitive and well-practiced interviewers, with the ability and the inclination to ask the right questions that elicit the best responses. Interviews with subject matter experts (SMEs) inform the brand journalist so he or she can better discern your business, describe your operation or solutions and deliver your messaging. Interviews – really, they’re just casual but focused conversations – also stimulate a more organic, thoughtful discussion, which in turn generates more interesting, creative ideas. Journalists are trained to think about what is newsworthy; they are instinctively always looking for storylines.
When SMEs talk to brand journalists – especially when they are “on the same team” with the interviewer and don’t have to be guarded or worry about being taken out of context – they open up and speak in a different way. They are absorbed in a way they wouldn’t be with a marketing coworker who ostensibly already knows the business and is just going through the motions to get some material to add to the website’s “What We Do” page.
SMEs are, by definition, knowledgeable authorities in their field, even if they don’t consider themselves SMEs. When they are talking to a brand journalist, who is smart and well-prepared but still an inexpert industry outsider, the conversation will often achieve an equilibrium of approachable substance, comfortable depth and thought-provoking energy that makes for perfect brand content, which people want to consume. Even professional peers in an industry, would-be clients and customers who might otherwise be interested, won’t read boring blogs, watch lame videos or follow stiff social media accounts. Brand journalists, through productive and open-ended interviews with even the most jargonizing SME and the most highly technical topics, can not only make sense of it, but also make use of it to create impactful content that moves metrics and helps hit KPIs.
Brand journalists might be talking to someone for a blog about a company’s products and services, but something the interviewee says prompts them to follow up and go down a different path. Maybe the person runs half-marathons to raise money for an autism charity because his son was diagnosed with the disorder. Maybe he mentions that four of his coworkers started running too, to support him and his son, and then the organization donated to the charity and set up a volunteering program. Now you’re writing an original article about organizational culture, about the kind of people that work there and the principles they have – instead of regurgitating “Company Mission and Values” statements – and you’re connecting all of that back to products and services in a more indirect way. You’ve told a human story about relationships, and people want to buy things from brands that feel human and relatable.
Just like the NFL fans who don’t know exactly what defensive formation their team is playing (it’s a Base 4-3 Two-Deep Man Under, by the way) or the readers who just want the gist of the 200-page legislative bill, branded content consumers want information that is user-friendly, interesting and relevant, that adds value to their lives or their businesses.
There are myriad Americans who go to the doctor but are unfamiliar with the crucial nuances of health care administration and medical billing. There are countless employers who don’t really understand the technological architecture that enables the cloud computing they may not be fully optimizing on their work computers every day. There are loads of factory floor leaders at manufacturing plants choosing cheap, inferior equipment to save some upfront money, even though it will be more cost-effective and efficient later on to have bought a better product. These are the audiences your business wants to reach, and brand journalists can help you do it.
PowerPublish’s team of expert brand journalists, virtual editors and content creators are enabling companies across a range of industries – from IT and SaaS to health care and pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and industrial, financial and retail, and much more – to make their highly technical fields accessible. We are the subject matter experts on brand journalism, and you’ll find that out when we interview your SMEs. Outsource your brand publishing to us and discover content that delivers results and drives revenue.