Decades ago, people became so familiar with the language in marketing messages that they stopped paying attention. Savvy consumers learned to quickly tune out blatant commercial slogans or any content that seemed focused on selling them something.
Younger Americans, bombarded with marketing messages on television and the internet since childhood, have grown up developing the ability to ignore traditional advertising.
That’s where brand journalism has come in and changed how businesses approach potential customers. Rather than selling to them, they provide them with information they want and, in some cases, need to know. It’s been adopted by many organizations, including the global hospitality industry.
Brand journalism takes many of the tenants of journalism and applies to them to content created by businesses to engage both current and potential customers.
Some of those tenets include:
A travel and tourism company, for example, might offer informative articles on the history of certain locations as well as entertaining travel stories from those who have been there.
It’s an old-fashioned win-win situation. Businesses who use brand journalism create a more meaningful relationship with consumers. And consumers, rather than getting bombarded with sales slogans, get information that helps them make decisions. Or, at the very least, broadens their knowledge about a topic.
The following are some of the steps needed to use brand journalism when practicing content marketing in the hospitality industry.
You can’t create content that speaks to your audience unless you know who they are and what they like to do. A restaurant that offers conch fritters, a great beach view and a casual atmosphere would not want to create content on high-end French cuisine.
A quick way to understand what your customers are interested in is simply to ask those you already have. What do they want to learn about and experience? What information could you offer them that would make their visit to your website more productive and meaningful? What type of content would they find entertaining?
This can prove to be the most difficult area. In many cases, businesses do not have the resources to build a content team. Instead, they turn to outside consultants or agencies for help.
But while developing a detailed content strategy and producing articles or videos demands certain skill sets, coming up with ideas often just requires taking the time to sit down and think about it. The only tool you will need is a pen and piece of paper.
Place the main topic you want to write about in the center of the piece of paper. Then, begin to “free associate” some words and phrases that leap to mind. You will be amazed at how fast you can think of them. Not all will be workable as a brand journalism content piece, but it’s a place to start.
For example, if you have rental properties near the beach, some ideas that come to mind include:
Of course, all those won’t turn into content pieces. But some have real promise, and all are topics a person renting a house near the beach might want to know more about.
It’s a smart move to use brand journalism in many ways. While an article with bullet points and plenty of headlines to break up the copy (such as the one you are reading) is typically great for the majority of content, there are other forms as well. They include:
Another key to brand journalism in hospitality (or any other industry) is consistency. To keep customers returning to the site, they must have new content to read or watch. Finding the time to do this is one of the most common challenges with content marketing. To keep yourself on task, create an editorial calendar that details what content you’re going to publish and when.
For hotels, restaurants, tourist destinations and other hospitality-related businesses, the competition can be fierce. It’s important to make the time to follow the schedule detailed by your calendar, posting content as frequently as you can manage. It’s no less critical than any other marketing you do for your business and needs to be treated with the same respect.
Clearly, using brand journalism provides those in the hospitality industry a golden opportunity to reach new customers and continue a strong relationship with those who have already become valued guests. Keep these tips in mind as you make a commitment to content marketing as part of your ongoing business strategy.