How brand journalism is like being next to a cool person at a party

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Who doesn’t want to be next to the cool person at a party? He or she is the one in the know. Everything they talk about is interesting and is usually about something other than themselves.

As Kirsten Chiala, Digital Content Manager, Social Media Communications at Cisco said in a recent podcast, that’s exactly what brand journalism is like. Your audience should gravitate to your content, and you should rarely talk about yourself.

Before joining Cisco, Kirsten was an Emmy Award winning Executive Producer. How she adapted what she’d learned in the newsroom to online brand journalism may change the way you approach social media and content strategy.

Identify the Cool Stories

Like TV journalists, brand journalists look for stories that make waves in their industry, while also finding and leveraging the emotional hook that conveys how the subject of the story affects people personally and emotionally. In the B2B world, that means not stopping with the technology, but digging deep to find out how that technology will help people, and whose life/career stands to be disrupted.

In one of the podcast’s many gems, Kirsten tells how Cisco worked with a documentary filmmaker who produced a trailer for a film he is working on. The movie, called Detected, follows the efforts of a technology pioneer and a businessperson to bring to market a wearable technology device that will help diagnose breast cancer when worn in a bra and connected to reporting technology via the Internet.

Because the device relies on the Internet of Everything (IoE), it is of specific interest to Cisco and its audience. Because breast cancer has touched everyone’s life, the subject has universal emotional appeal.

To make it easy for the audience to understand the enormity of the project and how the technology works, Cisco has taken chunks of the project and broken them down into easily digestible pieces of content – blogs, infographics, video interviews with healthcare professionals and the filmmaker.

The trailer debuted at South by Southwest (SxSW) in March 2015. You’ll find it at

Use Previews to Attract and Drive Your Audience

We see news previews every day on TV. The expression, “Film at 11” has been engrained in our culture. Brand journalists use similar previews in the form of 6-second vine videos, gifs, memes, and other types of content snippets to build interest in a subject and link interested audience members directly to the content.

Create “Packages” of Stories around One Subject

It’s not unusual for content marketers to re-purpose a piece of content that has struck a nerve. Packaging content is somewhat different, as it involves planning to look at a subject from a variety of perspectives and then creating content for each perspective.

Telling a story about how a new technology is gaining traction in the marketplace could be one piece of the package. Other pieces might include background reports on the creators of the technology, interviews with users, and maybe even a “fluff” piece on what people are saying about the technology on social media. The possibilities are limited only by your team’s imagination.

Be the Cool Brand on the Internet

Brand journalism, when practiced well, helps brands separate themselves from their competition. In this way, they become the cool brand on the Internet.

To learn more about the cool things Cisco is doing in brand journalism (you will be inspired), listen to the podcast with Kirsten Chiala.

If you want to get 30 effective techniques to master content marketing along with valuable insights from 10+ influencers like Mark Schaefer, Rebecca Lieb, Lee Odden, Jason Miller or Ian Cleary, download our free eBook now!


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About the Author

Bernie Borges
Bernie Borges is co-founder and CMO of Vengreso, the recognized leader in digital sales training. Bernie is the host of the award winning Modern Marketing Engine podcast with over 260 episodes published. Bernie is a frequent speaker at industry events and is the author of Marketing 2.0. He has been recognized by industry peers, including Top 50 Content Marketing Influencers 2019, Marketing Insider’s 60 Best Marketing Speakers and 50 Social Media Marketing Influencers. Bernie has previously taught the Content Marketing module in the University of South Florida Digital Marketing Certificate Program. Email: 
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6 years ago

thanks for your article!

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