Earned, owned, shared, paid.
They are the four words that make up the cornerstone of public relations in 2015.
Native advertising and sponsored content are the phrases that are thrown around interchangeably to describe buying your (content’s) way onto a third-party website.
But the Holy Grail is brand journalism. It gives you the ability to truly control your content in a way that both exemplifies your brand and reaches your target audience.
Until recently I thought it was nothing more than a pipedream.
That is until I saw Marriott Traveler.
Marriott’s entry in the brand journalism space is quickly what we in PR should all strive for, both for our clients and for ourselves.
In its first “issue” Marriott celebrates its core brand of travel and focuses on one city, New Orleans. Readers can explore their options in the areas of food, family, culture, zen and travelcraft. The articles are well written with good images. The content is added to daily, giving readers a reason to come back.
It is the flight magazine of yesteryear, for those of us who remember flight magazines. But it is available online for those planning trips, for those interested in traveling, which is Marriott’s core brand.
What makes this brand of brand journalism stand out?
- It provides value: This is really good stuff. This is actionable travel information that regular people can use.
- It doesn’t rely on third-party endorsement: This is not travel journalism about New Orleans that Marriott’s hopes will mention its properties. It is travel journalism by Marriott that positions it as a travel expert about New Orleans.
- It doesn’t hard sell: As a matter of fact is it the softest of all sells. Across the top of the home page there is a very unbranded callout to find a hotel. Then all the way at the bottom there’s a large picture that promotes the hotels with the word “sponsored” across the top. Yes, they even tell you that they are advertising on their own site.
- They promote it on existing social platforms: It pays to have built up those fans and followers so now you have this great unbranded content to promote through posts and social advertising.
This is brand journalism 101, 201 and graduate course level. This is why journalists are leaving their jobs to go work for brands.
This is the standard for those in PR who pay lip service to all the buzzwords should strive to meet and exceed. This is what we at THP think of as we talk about brand journalism to our clients.
Congrats Marriott for showing us the way.