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How Brand Journalism Can Elevate A Defense Contractor's Marketing

Aerospace and defense contractors moving to a brand journalism approach to marketing can increase awareness, understanding and sales of their products and services. 

Aerospace & Defense Brand Journalism Raytheon Home Page

Brand journalism is a relatively new marketing term. It describes the practice of using digital publishing and social media tools to speak directly to customers, prospects, influencers and even the news media. It is probably one of the most significant changes happening in the media industry today.

This short (2:46) video from Ragan Communications explains the concept of brand journalism. Key points:

  • Brand journalism is essentially "your company as media outlet."
  • It combines solid reporting of journalism, while showcasing your own brand by quoting your company's experts, using examples from your company and by covering your industry.
  • Does not always focus exclusively on your own company, but rather your industry niche.

When done correctly, your company comes to be known and trusted as the expert industry source.

In "A 5-step guide to starting a brand journalism program" (Ragan's PR Daily) the phenomenon of brand journalism is summed up this way:

The future belongs to businesses that become the media, and brand journalism ultimately means you cover your business and industry like a reporter.

Raytheon is one defense contractor that has wholeheartedly embraced brand journalism.

If you look at Raytheon's home page (shown above), you'll see that the company is taking a news approach to their marketing. They have hired a group of former journalists to tell stories about Raytheon, and the news media is even using the content for their own reporting.

Raytheon judges the success of its brand journalism with a dashboard of metrics based on active engagement with the brand. According to Pam Wickham Raytheon VP, Corporate Affairs & Communications:

We focus less on numbers and more on engagement—it’s not the old-fashioned numbers game of PR inches and ad dollars. The level of social engagement has exploded. The government understands that social channels are a good way to develop advocacy.

Like any defense contractor, Raytheon must exercise caution about what they can say given the sensitive and confidential nature of some of their products. “All information that is communicated about our customers gets their approval first,” said Corinne Kovalsky, Director, Digital & Social Media at Raytheon.

But the hurdles associated with being a defense contractor have not stopped Raytheon from successfully changing its marketing playbook.

According to Kovalsky, previous marketing efforts were more limited and included targeting military customers, financial analysts and trade journalists.

But with Raytheon’s new brand journalism approach, they are reaching those groups and elected officials, congressional staffers, military families, veterans, prospective employees and enthusiasts. In doing so, Raytheon is building legions of brand advocates. Kovalsky describes their approach with a quote from social media expert Brian Solis, "You are now marketing to an audience with an audience of audiences.”

So is it working? The indications are good:

The sales cycle is long when it comes to aerospace and defense technology, so it’s hard to point to any one factor as being the reason that a sale was made. That being said, our work in social media, like our work in all of our communications channels, is about sharing what Raytheon stands for and how we’re different. We’ve seen evidence that our approach is working. Our social media followers and fans, some of whom are our customers, tend to be among the most engaged in our peer group. -CORINNE KOVALSKY, RAYTHEON

Defense contractors do not need to be the size of Raytheon to take a brand journalism approach to marketing. A brand journalism approach for even the smallest companies can yield tremendous results if the content is developed from the mindset of a news reporter.

What do you think? Please join the conversation below. And if you found this helpful, please share it with your network.

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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