#AskJon: What is the difference between content marketing and brand journalism?

Marketers throw around phrases like brand journalism and content marketing almost interchangeably these days, but there is a definite difference between the two of them.

Content marketing was born more in the b2b space, and it’s more about folks and companies giving out information, primarily custom information, like white papers or reports or offers. And those are designed to drive you to a landing page ask you to give them custom information about yourself, like email addresses and your job title. And, in exchange, you get a download of that information. Your email address then goes in the database, where you are nurtured further with more content, and then ultimately they can tell how many times you come back to their website and their content. When you come back enough times, your information is then given to a salesperson as a sales lead, and then you’re contacted. And, hopefully for the company that contacted you, you’ll become a customer.

Just to prove that content marketing works, content marketers are spending upwards of a quarter of their budgets to use for content marketing efforts. And, on the other side of it, about half of customers—potential customers—say that they want to interact with three or four pieces of content before they want to be contacted by a salesperson. So, again, it’s that in-and-out—that push out and then inbound, and inbound marketing is another one of those catchphrases, it’s getting your attention, giving you something, asking you for something in return and then hopefully a business connection can be made.

Brand journalism is different. That’s where a company or brand puts out educational and informative information about their brand or about what they are all about without selling too hard.

Great examples of that, and you might want to get your pen out, one is traveler.marriott.com, where Marriott is selling travel to specific cities, but not hotel rooms. Or vanwinkles.com, and that’s by Casper bedding. That’s all about sleep and they’re not selling mattresses. Or, one that we do for our client Swedish Match that’s all about Swedish culture in the United States, and it’s umgasmagazine.com, and it’s very little about the tobacco products that they sell. So, again, it’s you want to be there for the customer and give them good information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that’s informative and educational, so at the time where they’re looking for the hotel room, the mattress or tobacco, you’re there in the back of their minds, and then they will contact you. But in both cases, you’re doing similar things. On both the content marketing side and brand journalism side, you’re putting out really good information that’s meant to share your expertise and you’re marrying that with social advertising or digital advertising to drive the right people to the content. We’re gonna be talking more about this at an event and a talk that I’m giving on September 19th here at the Hodges Partnership, sponsored by and brought to you by AMA Richmond. So, if you want more information about that or if you want to register, because we’d love to see you there, just go to amarichmond.org and you can register and we’ll see you on the 19th.

Jon Newman

In 2002 Jon cofounded The Hodges Partnership and has helped to grow it into one of the country’s largest public relations firms (based on O’Dwyer’s annual rankings). Jon has taught communications as an adjunct professor at VCU, speaks regularly at conferences and meetings and blogs and tweets about public relations and marketing issues.

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