From September 27 to 29th, I was honored to participate in the Ragan Communications Seminar sponsored by Coca Cola based on the topic of ‘Brand Journalism and Storytelling’.
As Ragan Communications opens grand seminars to educate, and interact with PR and Advertising bigshots around the world, I was able to learn and explore the growing field of brand journalism, and hear professionals’ insights based on how a brand can deliver their story, captivate their audience, and in the end trigger their target consumers to purchase.
Photographed by Yeeun Shin
Before I explain the concept of Brand Journalism, otherwise known as Brand Communication — the means a corporation or brand uses to communicate their purpose and ideals to customers through various channels — I would like to first, analyze what a corporations’ main goals are within the market.
A corporation aims for ‘effectiveness‘ through ‘efficiency‘. Thus, it tries to effectively achieve their ultimate goals of their consumers purchasing their products and using their services, with efficiency. Efficiency in this manner refers to when a corporation uses the least resources, time and financial factors to bring out a maximized profit.
However, marketers must avoid marketing myopia, by putting consumers’ needs before the corporation’s main goals to sell. This means that the marketers should distance from strictly viewing consumers as their buyers, but should target to fulfill their needs. This will change the perception and overall comprehension of the consumers to think that the brand really understands and cares for them. Overall building brand loyalty with loyal consumers continuously searching under a brand’s umbrella for various products and services that seem perfectly suitable to their needs.
Unfortunately, in the past it has been difficult for corporations to deliver the idea that they put consumer needs first over their own. That is because the media was strictly confined with 4 Big Media distribution channels : Television, Newspaper, Magazine, and Radio. Before the emergence of the Internet, corporations asked of their advertisers and marketers to inform consumers of their brand’s products and services because this was the only opportunity and channel where they could communicate the benefits their products had.
However, with the emergence of the Internet, a consumer can easily search for the brand’s products and services with a search engine, or by visiting the brand’s official website. Relevantly, brands have more opportunities to communicate their ideals, promote their brand image, and really interact with consumers on an emotional, humane level through advertisements distributed in various media outlets, particularly Social Networking Services (SNS).
As a result of easier access to the internet, and growing trend of creating media content by one’s self, corporations are deciding to stop hiring traditional journalists to inform about their brand, but rather create their own media content where they not only inform, but entertain, inspire and persuade the consumers with compelling content.
This is the concept of Brand Journalism. Brand Journalism is where the brand, and corporation becomes its own media outlet. Brands create their own news, and distribute their own news as if it were a traditional journalist website, such as Cable News Network (CNN) or the New York Times.
The seminar I attended, emphasized that the key to brand journalism is to create compelling stories, sophisticatedly create a “newsroom” or “news outlet” that is similar to traditional online news websites, and implement storytelling with human emotions.
Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications quoted :
“Brand Journalism is storytelling. Using honest, emotionally connected human storytelling is the key for corporations to communicate about their brand. The greatest brand journalism is content that doesn’t bored people. Nobody wants to be bored anymore.”
Justin Allen, the head of the Video Strategy and Production for Ragan Consulting Group emphasized that corporations must wisely analyze the changing consumer attention and behavior towards the media. He said that as much as brands telling their own stories is an innovative and effective idea, in order for brands to achieve their ultimate goal, they must captivate the consumers’ attention. To captivate attention, he analyzed that the global trend of consumers is their favorability for short videos.
As a video strategist he emphasized that time is really important. He analyzed that nowadays in order for a video to become viral, they must put a very deep, valuable message within a minute, due to the shortening attention span with cognitive overload and media proliferation.
Justin Allen quoted :
“You don’t bite off more than you can chew. So instead of overloading consumers with three or more reasons why they as consumers should be watching your brand’s video, or promoting different values of your brand, just give consumers one reason. Give them a single-biggest reason to why they must be looking at your video.”
By the end of the Conference, I realized that more and more corporations are using their own Communication and PR team to make their own news.
Below, I have attached images of prominent Brand Journalist sites from world-wide known corporations.
Coca-Cola Journey : (http://www.coca-colacompany.com/)
Ben Deutsch, Vice President for the Coca Cola Company’s corporate communication shared that the three major aims of the Coca Cola Journey (news outlet for Coca Cola) is : 1) Engage the Conversation 2) Tell deeper stories behind our work and our priorities 3) Deliver content that makes a difference for the business.
As a result, Coca Cola Journey not only delivers its corporate content, but voice through personal stories such as the production processes of Coca Cola, brand values and ideologues within the employees, episodes of its consumers. By effectively using visuals on their online website and digital storytelling, their news outlet is considered one of the most prominent in the Brand Journalism field.
NASA Social Media : (http://www.nasa.gov/socialmedia)
John Yembrick, Chief of Digital Communications in NASA explained how NASA is one the lead of brand journalism with effective usage of Social Networking Services. As the younger generation uses various different SNS channels to communicate, NASA analyzed and implemented such trends to deliver quite difficult space-related information in an entertaining and visually eye-catching way.
As a result they are the 59th most followed account on Twitter with 26.4 million followers, have over 20.6 million likes on their Facebook page, and have 27.5 million followers on Instagram.
By uploading eye-catching moments of space, they have effectively communicated what NASA does, will do and is focusing on while simultaneously interesting its viewers. Their goal is to “share as much about NASA as possible with as many people as possible.“
Samsung Electronics Newsroom : (https://news.samsung.com/global/)
Korean Corporations are also effectively using Brand Journalism. As for Samsung Electronics, they have their own newsroom provided in 13 different languages : from German, Indian, Mexican, Russian to Brazilian!
It not only includes news about the corporation, products, and press reviews, it uses digital storytelling by showing consumers the facilities Samsung employees work under or the working conditions Samsung promotes with its corporation ideology.
To further attract consumers from various age levels, they even implement a program where they recruit university students as their newsroom writers to explore diverse programs, services, and company ideologues of Samsung. These university students write articles or film videos based on behalf of Samsung and the younger generation.
From Kakao News and Youtube, Samsung Electronics uploads various videos that elicit human emotions and inspiration with diverse compelling content that encourages a ‘like’ a ‘view’ or even a ‘share’.
Overall, Brand Journalism is strengthening in corporations around the world where companies decide to communicate about their own products, services and ideas by themselves.
By creating visually attractive newsrooms, emotionally inspiring or empathetic content, and analyzing and implementing viewers’ tastes in their content, brand communication is not only common but effective for corporations to promote and sell their brand image and products.
- Usage of Primary Sources from direct interviews with quoted individuals, all present in the Ragan Communications Seminar.
- Pictures cited with URL above : pictures taken from the main homepage of Corporation’s newsroom or online websites.