Mark Ragan Inspires at Brand Journalism Workshop in Phoenix

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Beautiful conference room at the Phoenix Suns

Beautiful conference room at the Phoenix Suns

Yesterday, I experienced a continuum of light bulbs turning on and waves of inspiration disrupting my routine thought process as I participated in a must-attend workshop for communicators. Because I won a free ticket from Phoenix PRSA, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Brand Journalism workshop created and led by Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications and publisher of PR Daily, Ragan.com and HealthCareCommunication.com. The event was hosted at the arena of the Phoenix Suns in the heart of downtown Phoenix.

Those in attendance were public relations agency professionals, internal communicators and even former journalists. We may have different titles, but every person in that room could be identified as a storyteller.

The workshop took me from sitting on the edge of my chair, taking notes as fast as possible to leaning far back in my seat visualizing the bigger picture of the role of the communicator. So many thoughts and reflections were had and it’s still all swirling around as I prioritize what I need to implement first.

I knew going into the workshop that the role of today’s communicator has become more important than ever before, but it was an eye-opening experience to see how to take this role to a whole new level; and to see how a startup nonprofit brought in a creative team first, even before a CFO, and has been able to have such a large impact, is truly amazing to see.

It all begins with Brand Journalism.

Brand Journalism is a strategy of using journalistic, storyteller approaches and transferring it into the corporate environment. Brand Journalism doesn’t work without good content or a targeted audience. As Mark noted, there is no boring content, only boring writers. He showed us example after example of press releases that would bore anyone to tears.  He talked about how it could be transformed into something so fascinating you’d think it’d be impossible to write something boring.

It’s an all-hands on deck approach. Whether your organization is large with many departments, leaders or a small, but mighty team, there should be input on what content gets published from every corner of the business.

And the content that gets published needs to be engaging, entertaining, about the people closest to the story and something readers can easily share on social media.

Think about your corporation’s online newsroom. What does it look like? Is it an outdated layout with few photos and boring headlines? An interactive newsroom is what Brand Journalism really is.  In all reality - a corporate newsroom shouldn’t even look like a corporate newsroom.

We learned that the more a consumer accesses a brand’s content, the closer they become to buying that brand’s product or using its service. Brand Journalism is in it for the long haul. It builds an organization’s credibility, trust and affirms its stance as a thought leader. One of the ultimate goals is to make your newsroom become part of an audience’s workflow.

Your organization and its people are doing great things – we (communicators) know we need to tell those stories, it’s the way we package and deliver those stories that matter. Farewell to the press release graveyard. Hello to the cutting-edge, interactive newsroom.

Shelby Ray
Shelby Ray
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

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