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What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Brand Journalism?

For a marketing professional like with over 15 years of working experience, I have always been tempted to throw in the white flag and give up on keeping abreast of new marketing terminologies that pop out every other days, and mind you, that is in addition to the abundant information and social media phenomenals that are bombarding us every second, such as the most recent “the dress viral” that has literally divided everyone in the universe  into two groups -”gold & white” and “blue & black”.CHeerful reporter working in office on laptop

So, from Thought Leadership Marketing to the Content Marketing, and now Brand Journalism. What is the difference?  Can the two terms be used interchangeably? Both are involved with creating content that audiences find interesting and useful, but does that mean they are one in the same?

 Content marketing

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:

The practice of creating relevant and compelling content in a consistent fashion to a targeted buyer, focusing on all stages of the buying process, from brand awareness through to brand evangelism.

The buying process is guided by buyer behavior, which progresses in the following four stages:

  • Discover: A customer determines the need to solve a problem
  • Explore: Needs are refined into requirements and potential vendors are contacted
  • Buy: Vendors submit offers and the solution is acquired
  • Engage: Onboarding is completed and the service is provided

Even though content marketing intends to generate leads, the material should not read as an advertisement or sales pitch.

Victoria Harres, vice president of strategic communications at PR Newswire, explains: “Content marketing is about sharing information that has real value to your target audience and educates your potential customers; not about your products, but topics that strongly support what you sell.”

The goal of content marketing is to increase the demand for a product or service through useful information.

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Brand journalism

Many companies are hiring freelance journalists or building in-house news operations to create editorial-style content that engages target audiences. These stories are meant to connect on a personal level and create a favorable impression of the brand. Some would argue that brand journalism is biased because it is being told by a company that intends to sell products or services, but Maria Perez, director of online community services for ProfNet and PR Newswire for Journalists disagrees:

“Consumers want more from companies than just products and services – they want to know companies care about them, about their goals, their dreams, and their lives. When done right, brand journalism allows companies to connect with consumers more personally than through a traditional ad.”

Perez continues:

“Look at sites like P&G Everyday from Procter & Gamble, Backing America’s Backbone by U.S. Cellular and HSBC News and Insight from HSBC Holdings; they’re tapping into millions of consumers and sharing tips on parenting, personal finance, and business management. The articles are written by professional journalists, and the quality of information rivals that of traditional media sites.”

The goal of brand journalism is to find and tell the stories that convey a brand’s “personality.”

Bottom line

Content marketing and brand journalism are not identical practices, nor are they mutually exclusive. Understanding their similarities and differences can help define specific and measurable business goals.

So the lines continue to be blurred and unwillingness to keep up to latest practices and trends in the field of marketing and pr  is simply not an option.

 This article was first published in PR Newswire’s Beyond Blog by Shannon Ramlochan, Content Marketing Coordinator

 by Fern Cheng| of PR Newswire