Content Marketing vs. Brand Journalism

Which is what? What is which?

Randall Gerber, CEO, The Gerber Group

A few years ago, every healthcare marketer had the term “social media” on the tip of their tongues.  But things change rapidly these days.  Facebook, Twitter, Flicker, Interest, LinkedIn, Tumbler, Integra, and Google + (Oh, wait I think that’s going away.)

Now, we are likely to hear “Content Marketing” and “Brand Journalism” used in the same breath. Most sources agree that the two are NOT the same.  But there is a wide range of definitions when it comes to how the two are related.

Both Content Marketing and Brand Journalism grow from increasing cynicism among consumers about traditional advertising and PR messages.  All it used to take was a clever slogan or catchy jingle.  “Oh what a relief it is!”  “Double your flavor doubles you fun with double mint gum!”  (Notice the excessive use of exclamation points.)

When today’s consumers are exposed to 5,000 advertising messages a day – almost from the day they’re born – they become bored, weary and cynical of claims that aren’t always supported by reality.

To regain the public’s trust and credibility, many organizations – including hospitals and healthcare systems – are turning to using compelling, credible content to inform and educate consumers.  No sales pitch.  No “we have the newest technology.”  No “we have the most stars.”  It’s talking about the issues people want to know about.

And since 84% of Internet users search the Web for health information, Content Marketing is often associated with online blogs or web sites.  Sometimes it’s new content.  Other times information that may have appeared in print or other forms in repurposed. In any case, it is designed to offer useful information with NO COMMITMENT or than reading it. The only mention of an institution might be in an expert’s identification.

Content Marketing focuses on “pulling” people in to the content, rather than pushing content out and interrupting what people are doing  (like TV commercials).

Brand Journalism obviously adds more emphasis on Brand.  It differs from Traditional Journalism in that there is not an inherent effort to provide a fair view of issues.  It is, however, transparent as to the source of the information. It can contain a sponsor identification. It can be short, long-from, original, repurposed old content, third-party content or industry-related.

Whatever differences the two categories exhibit, they have much in common. Neither Content Marketing or Brand Journalism attempts to sell or persuade. Their primary reason for existence is to inform and educate.  They are factual and well researched.  Use various media (images, video graphics) to communicate.  And always offer an opportunity for a two-conversation with the consumer.

How would you define Content Marketing and Brand Journalism?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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