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The Communicator’s Secret Weapon: Why Brand Journalism is Worth the Investment

This week’s guest post comes from Ariel Rainey, brand consultant and founder of PR In the City Firm. Team Belle likes her take on the state of brand journalism- read on to learn more! Connect with Ariel on Twitter at @ArieltheMogul. When I was a little girl my favorite television sitcom was “Living Single”, which was a show that showcased a group of friends with careers whose personal and professional lives became our weekly TV addiction. My favorite two characters on the show were Maxine Shaw (the Comical Attorney) and Khadijah James (the Trailblazing Journalist) that owned Flavor Magazine. Flavor Magazine

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This week’s guest post comes from Ariel Rainey, brand consultant and founder of PR In the City Firm. Team Belle likes her take on the state of brand journalism- read on to learn more! Connect with Ariel on Twitter at @ArieltheMogul.


When I was a little girl my favorite television sitcom was “Living Single”, which was a show that showcased a group of friends with careers whose personal and professional lives became our weekly TV addiction. My favorite two characters on the show were Maxine Shaw (the Comical Attorney) and Khadijah James (the Trailblazing Journalist) that owned Flavor Magazine. Flavor Magazine was a literary source that addressed issues in the urban community by giving the world a “flavor” that was missing within traditional media sources.

Although the magazine was a fictional publication, it became a staple to fans of the show and was branded in our minds as the “mecca of urban journalism.” Flavor Magazine is the perfect example of how brand journalism is effective in positioning publications into becoming the trusted sources for their readers while creating a cult following that is needed for longevity.

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What is Brand Journalism?

Brand Journalism is the practice of using storytelling to increase a brand’s sales and attract its target audience. Despite being a fairly new concept, brand journalism is not a new movement in the communications world. Iconic publications such as PlayBoy, Cosmopolitan, Elle etc. have implemented brand journalism into their marketing schemes for decades. However, the social media takeover has led brands to invest in brand journalism practices as a way to further create a personal interaction with consumers.

Why is Brand Journalism Worth the Investment?

According to Forbes.com, brand journalism is one of the most quietly talked about areas in the media industry today, ultimately destined to shake 100 years of journalism. The quietness of this particular approach is becoming more present today, with journalists now affectionately identifying themselves as “brand journalists.” Already specializing in using words to sell a story, brand journalists create stories that will become a direct way for brands to cultivate and monitor their message while monitoring the tone of their digital and non-digital audiences.

Leaders of the New School

There are many popular brand journalists that have emerged in the last decade that have delivered results for brands. My favorite brand journalist, Issa Rae, most recently used this approach to solidify the meaning of her movement “Awkward Black Girl” with her latest memoir. Awkward Black Girl began as a web series that blew up overnight, and positioned Issa Rae as a leader in the digital content world. Although her web series is great and grabs your attention, her books highlight a personal story of being an awkward black girl that turned her web series into a lifestyle brand.

Within the next decade, brand journalism will become “the new PR” for many companies and brands as the digital world continues to develop. Communicators can prepare for the transition by taking the time to write about their brand (or clients’ brands) for blogs and publications. Use your writing to position yourself as a storyteller in the media. These personalized messages can turn a brand’s audience into new, brand ambassadors. I am an advocate for brand journalism, and excited to see this concept become the elephant in the room instead of the mouse behind the couch in the communications world.

Are you, or a member of your team a brand journalist? Do you think brand journalism is a trend, or here to stay? Let us know in the comments below!

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Ariel Rainey is a Brand Consultant and Journalist that focuses on building brands, writing good content and knowing the latest in entertainment. Nicknamed “The Mogul” by her clients and following, she is known for being the bridge that connects pop culture with emerging brands. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @ArieltheMogul and on her website www.ArieltheMogul.com.

Heather Allen

Belle's first employee. Lover of great food, good books and spreadsheets. Mom of three. Native Floridian and city girl residing in the cornfields of central Illinois.