8.5.14

What does brand journalism mean for your website?

BY KRISTI PETRIE

We've seen a few of our clients grappling with how to revamp their external communications to be more story-centric and less marketing message-oriented. (To those clients, I offer up Hubspot’s "The CMO’s Guide to Brand Journalism" which is a great, quick read on the topic, models and structure for these changes within a corporation). For this blog post though, I want to focus on what brand journalism means for your website.

For this experiment, I took three examples from Hubspot’s article mentioned above, and did a side-by-side comparison of each company’s traditional corporate website "Newsroom" with the separate website they launched purely to tell their company’s stories (we'll call this the media website). My test subjects included  Microsoft, GE and IBM. First, I’m going to tell you what my research findings boiled down to. Then, we’ll see how these three major companies followed these rules.

The Findings

  • Online magazines know how to do it. When it comes to the media website, forget the traditional corporate website press room layout. Model it after successful online magazine and content publishing site layouts.
  • Stories first. Your brand is second. Your stories (whether that’s feature articles, videos, podcasts or images) are the main feature! Everything else is secondary - including branding. You can simply and subtly link to your corporate website, but stay away from the marketing messages. This is about your industry, and your company’s role within it. It’s not just about your brand.
  • More photos. Less text. Again, think like an online magazine. Compelling visuals are necessary, and attention-catching headlines are required. People don’t read press releases, but people do read interesting, relevant articles!
  • Make it responsive. Don't forget the increasing number of people coming to your website from mobile devices. They want to see your content too and they won't work too hard for it if it doesn't work right.

Now, let's see how the big guys are following these rules.

If you only take one thing from this whole blog post about what brand journalism means for your website, I hope it’s this: "Put your stories first, and your brand second on your media website. Forget the traditional corporate website press room layout. Model it after successful online magazine and content publishing site layouts."

Happy storytelling!

Kristi Petrie
written by KRISTI PETRIE
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