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What role does a brand journalist play in a business?

Imagine a big business (a bank for example). Inside the walls of their headquarters will be a marketing department, a communications department, a tech/IT team, branding, compliance, and maybe (but less common) web development support.

Marketing, branding and compliance will usually come together to work on any outward facing campaigns. Traditionally these campaigns may have focused on TV on the following: print adverts, in-store assets, gaining PR attention and the development on online ‘tools’ such as net-banking (still using the bank example!), e-shops etc. They work with a full-service agency on conceptualising these and delivering the results.

As social media and ‘owned media’ have developed so has the need for businesses to start talking for themselves in real-time. This means that businesses now have to be accountable for the conversations and the relationships they build with their consumers. There’s no hiding behind huge ad campaigns or a media agency – it now has to come straight from the horse’s mouth.

If the internal structure of these big businesses hasn’t changed, how can they be expected to do this?

With the rise of content marketing, internal marketing teams began to realise that they have to pay considerable attention to their online assets and the content they produce – and it’s usually left for the marketing director to figure out.

The challenge is that a marketer who doesn’t (and shouldn’t be expected to) have the mind of a journalist, is left to create consumer-facing content. This content is expected to be engaging, personable and honest while telling a story and encouraging people to return. It has to inspire, educate or entertain and it has to be targeted rather specifically. Quite frankly, it’s a big job!

And here comes the need for the brand journalist – someone who is able to tell a story and to create editorial-style content that entertain and is written in ‘real  speak’ not ‘marketing-speak’.

The way I see it, is that a brand journalist either sits within a big business and works alongside (but is very different to) the marketing team or works within a content marketing agency (or *ahem, Brand Journalism agency!) and looks after these clients from afar.

The important thing for a business to remember here is that if they are hiring for an internal brand journalist, they must not blur the lines with other departments. A brand journalist can be expected to have a more commercial brain but should not be expected to a marketer. It’s a big step for a lot of businesses but it’s a much-needed step on the back of a new way of communicating.

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