Brand Journalism: Not the Worst Job in America

Google Glass

If you had a choice: would you rather work as a lumberjack or as enlisted military personnel?

These two occupations sandwich the occupation of “newspaper reporter,” which a 2014 survey declared “Now Only Second Worst Job in America!” Reporters got the short end of the ranking stick because, as Tina Nguyen summarizes, they make “on average, $37,090 a year, and also report absurdly high levels of stress, terrible work environments, and poor hiring outlooks.”

So what’s a journalist to do? One option is to buy access to a guide to tell you all about joining the ranks of brand journalism because “trying to find consistent work that challenges your writing skills and intellect, and most importantly, pays the bills, can induce quite the face palm.” A better option would be to read our post “How to Be Hired as a Brand Journalist” for free. (You’re welcome.)

Is brand journalism (or content marketing) the land of milk and honey if you are a struggling journalist? I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds and how the growth of brand journalism may impact journalist pay. One thing is certain: branded content, and brand journalism, isn’t going away.

Does It Matter Who Pays?

Michael Brenner, head of SAP‘s content strategy, discusses the benefits of brand journalism with Daniel Newman at Forbes:

Michael Brenner: Brand journalism is when a brand is the platform or the sponsor of content that is created for the user as opposed to for the brand. So it is not promotional or insidiously disguised advertising. It is real content created for consumers by people who care about creating quality content.

There is a lot of debate around whether the term “brand journalism” is an oxymoron. The bottom line is that journalism is defined by the skills, the experience and desire to create quality content that meets the needs of the content consumer. It is not defined by who pays the journalist. [emphasis added]

Tracking Content Real Time

Last week The Guardian announced beta testing of in-house editorial tool Ophan. The tool “[…] enables teams to track how every single piece of content – video, text or picture – is performing across the globe. It enables our optimisation teams within editorial to optimise that content in real time,” says Guardian Labs chief Anna Watkins. The paper is exploring branded content opportunities for its Google Glass edition. 

The Guardian is heavily experimenting with a combination of traditional journalism, branded content, and user generated content. This trend is happening everywhere in media. It will be interesting to watch how The Guardian’s brand journalism distributed to Glass users will be accepted (or not).

So, no. If you’re a writer or a journalist these are exciting times. Big shifts translate into big opportunities. You might just have to put on different, [Google] Glass[es] to see it.

Image: Max Braun

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.

  

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  1. I love Michael Brenner at SAP, but I have to disagree with him here. The content *always* reflects the goals of those who are paying to have it made — even if the goal is neutrality or independence. All journalism is brand journalism — choosing stories to cover is bias. The Guardian is brand journalism for the Scott Trust.

    I think another important point is being missed here. Is the journalism any good? I think people are drawn to quality content, no matter who makes it. Brands excel in this space by creating better content: better research, writing, editing and art than the competition.