>Why Journalism is the Key to Marketing


Jay Ehret is on a blogging break and will return with regular posts October 13th. Until then, please enjoy a great line up of guest bloggers.

By David Brazeal
The trouble with most marketing is that it’s trying to sell something. And people are sick of being sold, constantly and incessantly, so they’ve stopped listening to most marketers. In an online world with thousands of options for consumers, marketing is most successful when it serves, instead of sells.


That’s where journalism comes into play. The best journalism is, at its heart, about telling stories. And those stories share a couple of traits with good marketing, when they’re told well.

  • Good journalism engages people. A journalist’s story is most successful when it gets a reader’s attention and makes an emotional connection. It’s about more than writing a good lead paragraph. It’s about delving into a story, and encouraging readers to think more deeply about the topic.

    Your marketing can do the same thing. As a marketer, you can do more than talk about your product or service. You can tell stories that open people’s minds to new possibilities — get them thinking about your business in a different way.

  • Good journalism is responsive to its audience. The best journalists are members of the community. When I worked as a radio reporter (long ago in a past life), I covered the city government beat. I spent a lot of time at City Hall, talking to secretaries and department heads about their families — not searching for a story, but because I was genuinely interested in what those people had to say. Some days, I went back to the newsroom without a story. But I formed relationships with people that eventually led to stories I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

    A good marketer should be a member of the community, too. And the Web makes it easier than ever to do that. If you’re spending all your time talking about yourself, instead of engaging the community of like-minded people online, you’re missing an opportunity to become a genuine neighbor. And ultimately, if you want your business to be successful, it’s more important to earn people’s trust than to be constantly selling yourself.

So how do you apply some of the rules of journalism to your marketing? The easiest way to start is to look at your business as a “beat” that you’re covering for someone else. Often, we’re so caught up in our job’s day-to-day duties, we don’t see the interesting things around us. If you have a successful business, you’re surely offering something valuable to the community. Packaging that information in a way that makes people’s lives better — whether it helps them raise their children or clean their bathtubs — can position you as someone who people should trust.

Second, interact with people online! It’s not good enough to push your message out to people. Go to message boards or social networks or other online groups in your area of interest. Find out what people need, and figure out how you can give it to them — even if it’s not something you can sell them. Over time, as you give valuable information to people — just as journalists do — you’ll be building relationships that will serve your marketing goals better than any sales pitch ever could.

About the Author: David Brazeal blogs about new media, PR and journalism at JournaMarketing.

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