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September 20, 2011


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A good corporate newsletter is the old-fashioned term for brand journalism. Haven't we been doing that for our entire careers?

Kinda-sorta, Ron, but these companies are trying to use this to educate and impress customers, not employees. The question is: What are they going to be able to write about in such a compelling and credible way that people who DON'T work at the company will rely on it?

Hmmm. Maybe employee newsletters should just be shared with everyone, from customers to shareholders, so everyone would get the same open, honest, accurate, timely information. The result: the better the journalism, the more credible the brand; the more fairly valued the share price;and the more engaged the employees. A boy can dream, can't he?


Read all the stories by Russell Working and you'll get a good feel for the best of so-called Brand Journalism out there today.

Here is one we ran on today's Ragan.com. It's about HSBC's new brand journalism site, and it comes as close to the ideal as I think you can get right now.


I think the term is flawed but necessary. It provides an alternative to a far more popular buzzword, Content Marketing.

So what's the difference? Brand journalism attempts — and I put the emphasis on 'attempts' — to cover the company's market niche by becoming more like a trade publisher. When done correctly, content is newsy, helpful and non-salesly.

The problem? Marketers can't resist getting their hands on the site and pushing company products and messages.

And senior executives are still grappling with the question, "Wait a minute, you want me to hire five unemployed journalists, a video producer and a managing editor. Sounds great, but how do we sell our shit?"

Here are some examples of my favorite brand journalism sites:

* American Express Open Forum:

* Cisco's The Network:

* IBM's Smarter Planet:

* Intel's Free Press

* The Imperial Sugar Company's newsroom:

* Southwest Airlines:

* Export Development Corporation of Canada (EDC)

* Best Buy On

There are dozens more, including many run by health care organizations like The Mayo Clinic and The Cleveland Clinic.

Health care seems to be catching on to brand journalism faster than any other industry, perhaps because hospitals have amazing stories to tell and great access to research everyone cares about.

Communicators have a long way to go before the model is perfected. But more sites are emerging every month, and they are getting better.

Hope that helps,


Fox. Henhouse. 'Nuff said.

Well, maybe adding this: There's no way entities with that much bias can have the fairness and balance necessary to be called "journalism." No objection to them writing about themselves in whatever (legal) way they wish, but the word "journalism" should be reserved for, well, ACTUAL journalism.

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