Brand journalism: PR's latest tactic

Photo by Jason Howie.

In the pre-social media era, corporate storytelling was mostly limited to boring and dry “About Us” sections on company websites, or lengthy and technical white papers.

What is brand journalism?

These days, an increasing number of companies are thinking like publishers and generating their own content. In PR terms, we call this brand journalism. This hot new sector of content marketing starts with transforming the news release into other formats, including product blogs, e-books, landing pages and even microsites. Some brands are foregoing the news release altogether, opting for more interesting ways to tell stories using a mix of interview-style podcasts or brand experience videos using GoPro.

What does a brand journalist do?

Brand journalists work in both B2B and B2C industries. In a typical week at my digital communications agency, we’ll turn around a new product blog post timed with a CEO-thought leadership post on Pulse, publish an e-book of vegan recipes promoted by an Instagram contest, and upload a YouTube video on a boating tour that’s partnered with a resort client.

Key skill: Be insatiably curious about everything

Wondering what the key skill we (all) have that enables us to come up with each unique campaign? Call us news junkies—we have an insatiable, cat-like curiosity about everything under the sun, and openness to all types of brands. Having said that, if you’re focused on one particular industry, say technology or fashion, then know it inside out: the trends, the players, and what the latest reports say. The trick is to tie in relevant news with a brand’s strategy to create compelling content that has substance and value for the potential readers (who are really customers).

Other must-haves for a good brand journo:

A strong writing background that includes a flawless knowledge of grammar and punctuation
  • Resourcefulness with creative research skills that stretch beyond Google and Wikipedia use
  • Understanding of brand messaging, either from an advertising, marketing or PR background
  • A technical understanding of how content is most effectively delivered on popular social platforms

Chances are you have at least a couple of the above-described skills. Missing any?

About the author

Natasha Netschay Davies is president and owner of, a digital PR and communications agency. She provides strategy, content development and new media corporate training to companies and non-profits on how to engage stakeholders and influencers using the most effective web, social media and mobile tools.

In 2009, she established a social media department for Peak Communicators, B.C.’s largest independent PR agency. As director of digital and social media, she customized programs for clients including TELUS International, 7-Eleven Canada, Canadian Diabetes Association, and Coast Capital Savings.