Brand journalism can be a great way for writers to get experience, exposure, and income. If you’re thinking about going into this field, you may have a lot of questions: Is this really journalism? Is this going to damage my credibility? Will this prevent me from getting a job in news? How does this affect my personal brand? These are all good questions to consider before you take the plunge.
Yes and no. Similar to news journalists, brand journalists focus on telling stories and providing factual, compelling content. The main difference is that brand journalism is sponsored by brands or companies. This type of writing does not have the impartiality of investigative reporting, but it does have many of the same features, such as fact-based writing, research, interviews, citing sources, and grabbing readers’ attention. That said, you need to know that what you’ll write in brand journalism—also known as content marketing—is different than what you’ll write for news publishers.
It depends. You’ll seriously damage your reputation if you mislead readers by pretending that what you’re writing is impartial news reporting. But you can avoid this by ensuring that every brand or agency you write for has clear policies for where the content will run and how it will be labeled. Think of it like you are disclosing your affiliations in a news story; you just need to get all relevant information out there for readers. Write articles that will live on a company’s site or will run with a clear notice of who is presenting the content. Steer clear of agencies that publish branded content as if it were news content; this can damage both the news site’s credibility and your own.
Once again, it depends. According to Digiday, some newsrooms are hesitant to hire writers who are currently freelancing in content marketing because it is seen as a conflict of interest. If you decide to stop working in content marketing and go into news reporting later, many newsrooms—but not all—will be fine with it.
Writing for content marketing may change how some people perceive you. Before you jump in, take a look at your career and where you want it to go. List the types of news agencies that you want to work for in the future, and investigate their attitudes toward content marketing. Weigh this against the benefits you’ll gain from working in content marketing. Only then can you decide whether this industry is right for you.
Your personal brand is a vital part of the way you sell yourself and the way readers and potential employers view you. If you’re writing brand journalism, these articles will come up as part of your search results. Will this hurt you? Only if you let it.
It is important to find your niche. What are you an expert at? What do you want to write about? Identify subjects you are knowledgeable about and want to be affiliated with. Write only for companies that you support in real life. If you apply to write for companies that you don’t care about simply because you want to make money, it will show in your writing, and that will hurt you. If a search turns up 30 compelling, thought-provoking articles about one topic, that will work in your favor.
So, is brand journalism selling out? No. It’s a different—but related—way of writing. If you write with professionalism and integrity, writing for content marketing will help build your career.
If you want to enhance your career as a brand journalist, click here to create your Skyword writer portfolio.