How PR Specialists Can Use Brand Journalism – Three Lessons to Learn

Brand journalism is no longer the new kid on the block. It has been used by the biggest players on the market like Heineken or Coca-Cola for a while now. Customers are no longer interested in press releases or regular forms of expression; they want to know the story behind the product they are about to buy. In order not to stay behind, PR practitioners can take lessons from those creative ones who took their craft a few steps past a corporate blog.

Storytelling through various means of communication is a great opportunity for PR specialists who want to build trust and connect with their audience. Here are a few great examples of the brands that know how to do it right.

Heineken – Connect With People Through Stories and Experiences

It’s not only about creating great content; it’s more about presenting it right. That’s what Heineken did with its 80-page long sustainability report – not only did they publish it on their blog for the very curious ones, they also asked a Dutch rapper, Kevin ‘Blaxtar’ de Randamie, to read it and express it in his own words. Their 2-minute video is not only full of information – it is also presented in an accessible way.

Another great example of how Heineken has mastered the skill of storytelling through videos is their annual project called ‘The Orange Experience.’ In cooperation with the Dutch airlines KLM, they give their customers a chance to experience what Holland has best to offer – a nationwide celebration of their King’s birthday known as Kingsday. Their yearly videos from Kingsday celebrations, which engage Heineken’s customers and then are shown to the whole world, regularly attract masses to their YouTube channel.

The lesson to learn:

Instead of creating a lengthy content that not many are going to read, show it. Start telling stories and your audience will follow. Additionally, if your videos are catchy, it can create some extra buzz around your company. Cooperate and engage people.

Toms – If There’s More to Your Brand Than Just Products – Show It

Toms is not only about making comfy shoes and affordable accessories. It’s more about giving and helping those less fortunate. Through their ‘One for One’ program, the company helps a person in need for every purchased product. Then, Toms uses their blog to present real stories – of the people who buy, of those who receive the help, and of the whole philosophy that makes it happen. At every turn, the company reiterates that it is not the company itself that is responsible for its successes, but it’s their customers who, by buying their products, help those who need it. They make their customers feel a part of the team, creating a strong relationship between the people and the brand.

Toms’ effects are outstanding – over 3.5 million people follow them on Facebook and over 2 million on Twitter.

But it’s not those numbers that matter. What really matters is the number of people they, together with their customers, managed to help, and those numbers speak for themselves – in 10 years they gave away 60 million pairs of shoes to underprivileged children, provided 335,000 weeks of safe drinking water, helped restore the eyesight of 400,000 people and ensured 25,000 safe births.

Their philosophy is not just selling products. It’s selling products that make a change. Their ‘One for One’ strategy gives a customer the feeling that their purchase makes an impact, and that’s what people want to feel. What’s more, they know how to use their blog to engage their audience.

the lesson to learn:

The lesson to learn: If you have a great philosophy behind your product – make it bigger than the product itself. Give customers the feel that they are involved in creating a strong relationship with the brand.

General Electric – the Company Is Not Just Products – It’s People

GE is one of the masters of brand journalism. Their GE Reports website provides customers with stories that are both fascinating and educating. But that’s not the only way they use brand journalism – they went a step further and started using Snapchat in order to get the attention of the younger followers. They launched a Snapchat account @generalelectric where they show what interests their customers the most – their people. By showing the workplace and those who stand behind their products, they become more trustworthy in the eyes of the audience. What is interesting, General Electric does not use Snapchat solely for getting the attention of potential customers; they also use it to recruit talented students.

the lesson to learn:

The company is its people. By showing the company’s employees and their workplace you build trust and become real. Using new ways of communication helps reach the younger audience that is no longer interested in written information.

There are more tools and tricks any good PR pro can use in order to get the right attention. The couple pieces of advice above are just the tip of the iceberg. Nowadays, there is just one extremely important question each PR person should ask themselves:

Can I afford not to incorporate brand journalism into my PR strategy? Let’s talk about it!