“Story is the essence of communication. Always has, always will be” – Thomas Scott
In the realm of PR we deal with reality, and as practitioners, we’re considered as social scientists, or so Edward Bernays said in PR! A history on spin (Would definitely recommend this read, it’s by Stuart Ewen), and acting as these applied social scientists we’re expected to advise our clients and employers on the social attitudes of their publics and how to act accordingly. What better way of appealing to these attitudes than Brand Journalism?
Marketing is old school. People know by now how organisations go about buying Ad space to push their product and it’s forced people to stop taking an organisation at face value. Western society is so inundated with publicity and marketing that it seems like companies have given up forming mutual relationships. So if marketing has entered a lull in effectiveness, how do we keep promoting our brand without over saturating our publics with disingenuous publicity and marketing behaviours?
We swap to storytelling.
Scott tells how brand journalism found its roots in 2004 with the franchise industry when McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer Larry Light said, “mass marketing no longer worked and that no single ad tells the whole story.” McDonalds has developed a dominant authority in the fast food and franchise sectors and this can be seen through the stories it tells. McDonalds is more than a $2 Cheeseburger special; they’re the Ronald McDonald house, they’re a charity, they’re an advocate for careers and their official sponsors of Swimming Queensland, Little Athletics, and South Australian National Football League and many others.
Brand Journalism tells a company’s story, and where it’s human nature to hate feeling like you’ve been used or sold to, great storytelling and great content elicits trust and compassion from an audience and helps in developing valuable relationships that create communities that create trust that creates revenue that creates a reliable and noteworthy brand. If you can keep producing content that tells the story of your brand and its achievements, goals and community activities, your audience can be lead to grow with you as your brand grows and your story unfolds.