Brand journalism explained—in Academy Awards terms

What does your content creation campaign have in common with the Oscars? A lot more than you might think.

From actor to director to script writer, movies are the culmination of many strong components.

A superior film can bring an Academy Award for Best Picture. It’s the same with brand journalism. When multiple elements within storytelling and branding come together, PR pros—and the organizations they represent—are winners.

As you watch the Oscars this month—and wait for Leonardo DiCaprio’s triumph or snub—this is how you can understand brand journalism in movie terms.

Best actor means content to us.


Seldom do critics applaud a movie unless it has a strong star performance. It’s the same scenario with content in brand journalism. Every brand journalism effort requires content to tell your story. Build your initiative on substance that will resonate and appeal to your target audience.

How to win: Understanding how to create content for press materials is not enough to claim victory. Today’s public relations professional must be skilled at creating both written and multimedia content for a variety of platforms.

FREE guide: How to Be a Brand Journalist—Tell compelling stories and take your story directly to your audience.

Best supporting role means media relations to us. (Source)

What’s the point of creating content if no one sees it? A strong media relations strategy can amplify your content. Brand journalism’s best supporting role goes to media relations, because this outreach gets your content in front of your target audience. Organizations that produce high-quality content for brand journalism will be remiss if they don’t integrate earned media into their initiative. PR placements—or free publicity—can quickly boost a brand’s credibility.

How to win: In addition to publishing content on your organization’s social media channels, have a strategy to pitch your content to journalists. Placements that don’t involve an exchange of money can maximize your message. If this isn’t your area of expertise, work with an agency or consultant who can show examples of earned media coverage for brand journalism content.

Best distribution means sharing and cross-promotion to us.


Every successful movie studio has a distribution strategy that includes different avenues, such as theaters, online platforms and on-demand availability. Your brand journalism campaign will fall flat long before it reaches the red carpet if you don’t have a winning distribution plan that includes earned, owned and, if applicable, paid media placements.

How to win: Many vendors and agencies specialize in content distribution; however, there is no one-size-fits-all circulation package for brand journalism. Choose your channels based on the content you have to offer, your target audience and your goal.

People’s choice means value bombs to us.


The highest-grossing film often gets the public’s approval. With your brand journalism campaign, the more people you can reach in your target audience, the greater its perceived value will be. Put the needs of your audience first when building a brand journalism strategy.

How to win: Ask yourself what your ideal audience cares about and how they will benefit from your content. The human-centric philosophy is key when working as a brand journalist.

Now that you understand the elements of an award-winning brand journalism initiative, you may want to begin crafting your acceptance speech.

Lisa Arledge Powell is president of MediaSource, a content-focused public relations firm that specializes in brand journalism. MediaSource has been named Best Health Care Agency in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in Ragan’s Health Care PR & Marketing Awards. Connect on Twitter: @LisaArledge.

This article was created in partnership with MediaSource.

(Image by WEBN-TV, via)


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