“We are genetically programmed to tell stories.” – Steve Clayton, Chief Storyteller for Microsoft, closing keynote at Ragan

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend Ragan Communications’ 3rd Annual Social Media Conference for PR, Marketing and Corporate Communications at Disney World (Walt Disney World Resort). I was there not only representing Voce’s content marketing team but also to support the Disney Parks Blog (a Voce client), whose Thursday night keynote was closing out the event. All that and I was able to discuss best practices with attendees during the event, which is always a treat.

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Any conference held at a Disney Parks Resort is a “can’t miss” event but this event was something else all together. While all tracks were geared towards using social media, (Social Media Strategies for PR & Marketing, Social Media Strategies for Internal Communications and What’s Next on Social Media Platforms) what I found interesting was the abundance of the Brand Journalism and Newsroom models circulating around presentations and coffee break conversations. Most of the speakers in my track talked about their version of brand journalism and how their company has taken the leap to tell “their” story.

I find it fascinating and refreshing to see this new attempt to define and explain Brand Journalism to our industry. It helps to reinforce what we already know in our current content programs with PlayStation, Disney and Palo Alto Networks and adds validity to the counsel we provide on a daily basis.

Key Takeaways

  • More and more brands see the value of being their own voice and sharing their own story. This lends to the newsroom model and validates what Voce has been doing with clients like PlayStation, Disney, DC Comics for almost a decade. The newsroom model is still very new to many brands and I was pleased to see it be the center focus of so many presentations.
  • The newsroom model is fluid, nimble and non-stop. Brand Journalism is a lot like following the news cycle. Yes, you can plan out content based on upcoming events and key dates for your organization but your “newsroom” will soon become the place for breaking news for your organization. Likewise, while you plan ahead and prepare content, you might not be able to plan that far out for spontaneous news. And really, that is the definition of the news cycle, is it not?
  • Even the workflow process is more like a newsroom, many brands break down their program into monthly meeting to plan events, campaigns, initiative, projects; weekly meetings to assign stories with publishing deadlines and daily meetings to provide current monitoring trends and breaking news.
  • My prediction, Brand Journalism is here to stay. Now that brands have had the chance to build their own platforms and use their own voice to share their story (and thereby their key messages) there is no turning back. And why would they? Where else can the fan, customer or audience get the news straight from the source and have a transparent and authentic communication with the brand?

Favorite One-Liners

“Becomes the journalist? Stop pitching for the story – be the story, write the story.”

“There are 6 guiding principles for content: brevity, clarity, accuracy, timelines, conversational voice” (And I would add “humor” to this if it fits for your brand.)

“For great social, master the 4 Cs: Concise, Conversational, Compelling and Creative.”

“Great brand journalism = Content that is measurable, shareable, strategic and free of jargon”