Brand Journalism Is Not Content Marketing

Brand Journalism Is Not Content Marketing

Brand journalism” is commonly confused with “content marketing.” For the fourth post in our brand journalism series, let’s explore how these two approaches differ and why a company would choose one or the other (or perhaps both).

Ines Nadal, head of Trends & Futures at a U.K. research company, defines the two when she writes:

Let’s be clear: brand journalism is not content marketing. Content marketing develops content related to your brand, thinking how the brand can benefit from it, whereas brand journalism looks at how an audience can benefit from content that has been created by the brand.

I mostly agree with this distinction, but do have one caveat. Content marketing must consider the audience and offer something of value to be effective. I trust Nadel would agree.

How Brand Journalism and Content Marketing Differ

A better distinction might be that content marketing often places emphasis on the vehicle (video, blog, app, etc.) used to connect with people, while brand journalism places emphasis on niche-specific news production … the confusion being that this news can be disseminated through any of the above vehicles, as well as others.

These disciplines have plenty in common. Both create content that builds loyalty, thought leadership, and is ultimately meant to support a brand’s business growth. Both must provide value to their audience to obtain (or retain) an audience. Both must resist hard selling and blatant self-service.

Brand Journalism: News Focused

Brand journalism is the investigative storytelling of news reporting with a focus on industry, issue, or geography.

WHY IT WORKS: It respects the audience’s intelligence and is rewarded by their attention, their most precious commodity. Brand journalism works because at its core it is news coverage for a specialized audience. Over time brand journalism can build great loyalty to a brand as the natural outcome of daily, intelligent interaction between relevant news and interested audiences.

Brand journalism benefits include:

  • a proven way to provide value that cuts through marketing noise
  • a purposeful approach to building a solid thought-leadership platform
  • a powerful punch to your search engine effectiveness and lead generation for years to come

Content Marketing: Benefits Driven Content

Content marketing uses digital and traditional content assets to educate, entertain, or provide utility to new and existing customers.

According to Print My Logo: Content marketing includes any number of media formats and distribution combinations. Podcasts, videos, and blog posts  are diverse examples serving the same purpose. Content marketing differs from traditional marketing because all content is meant to provide utility. Content is developed and deployed for all aspects of the sales cycle, from research to repeat purchases.

Why Use Both?

Many businesses find that a combination of content marketing and brand journalism is extremely powerful. Brand journalism covers an area of interest to a specific group of people. It delivers value by providing context and clarity around breaking news. Content marketing, by contrast, offers content with specific utility in mind. The benefit of this useful content is continued brand awareness and loyalty it creates. Together, these two approaches are more successful in modern sales and marketing because they deliver targeted information to the people who benefit the most.

(See the earlier posts in this series: “What Is Brand Journalism?” “How Does Brand Journalism Work?” and “7 Reasons Brand Journalism Works.”)

About Katie McCaskey

Katie McCaskey is SixEstate's content director. She tests real-world application of content marketing techniques using the cafe she co-owns as a laboratory. She was Tech Editor of Chief Content Officer, 2010-2011, and contributes to the Content Marketing Institute. Connect with her on Google+ or @KatieMcCaskey.


Leave a Comment


  1. I totally disagree. Oops! :) To me they’re the same thing. It’s just that content marketing as a term is easier to sell to marketers than anything that includes journalism in its name.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Nenad! Good point. Yes, selling the word “journalism” can be tricky for the very reason that journalism has such a longstanding association with traditional media. Even if, as we’ve discussed, all journalists and their papers ultimately must satisfy their sponsors/advertisers (therefore underscoring is no such thing as “impartial journalism”), “content marketing” is a far easier sell. Perhaps they could be considered two sides of the same coin. What do you think?

    • I may agree with that. :) What I am mostly concerned about (and it’s not just brand journalism) is that it adds to the confusion. That we, who are so into it want to move forward while the majority is 100 steps behind.