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The New/Old Brand Journalist

The New/Old Brand Journalist

I have a degree in journalism from a major university, but other than a few newspaper stringer stories, I’ve never been a practicing “real” journalist.

The New/Old Brand JournalistI’ve mostly operated in the world of brand journalism (try saying that around a J-school).  Some people call it content marketing, but for me, brand journalism says it best. Brand journalism uses the skills found in traditional journalism to tell a story on behalf of a company, organization or cause.

As a brand journalist, you worry more about the audience than you would as a “real” journalist. Yet you still must find the story, research the story, edit the story and publish the story. Yours is a difference of purpose — you don’t need to be objective as a brand journalist. Some believe objectivity has left the building for regular journalists as well.

To me the goal of a brand journalist is to write stories that strongly connect with people on a personal level. This connection subtly provides a favorable impression about the brand. When you think about a brand personality, brand journalism is where it is forged. It is not created with a bunch of indiscriminate content creation.

I was always amazed when one of my brand “stories” would run in a local paper — sometimes on the front page and sometimes word for word — but with someone else’s byline. My goal was not to promote my name, but the name of my client or employer.

Brand journalism is not engagement journalism (and that is for another blog post).

The brand journalist is here to stay because digital is allowing for the brand to publish all the “news” that’s fit to print. If you want your brand personality to shine, bring on the brand journalist.

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

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Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.