Applying the skills, methodology and mindset of journalism to take an editorial approach to brand awareness and thought leadership. This strategy creates emotional engagement by using real stories and content to provide helpful and valuable information to consumers. In building a narrative instead of promotional copy, content is more original and insightful, less predictable and clichéd.
Brand journalism favours a continuous content stream approach involving multiple channels, in contrast to traditional marketing and advertising which focus on brand positioning. Through the use of blogs, social media, video, photography, microsites, infographics and industry news, content should reveal the allure of the wilderness, rather than sell it.
Destination BC’s Approach to Brand Journalism
Consumers are rapidly changing the way they find information and entertainment. People are sharing their experiences and views on social media; Google and Facebook are replacing the printed newspaper; and YouTube is replacing traditional TV programming.
This new behaviour means that marketers must also change—both how we reach our audience, and what we say to them. In a sea of emerging marketing trends, one of the most interesting and powerful is known as content marketing, or what we’re calling brand journalism. As publishers and traditional media struggle with diminished reach and revenue, there is a new opportunity for marketers to tell their own story directly to their audiences, through vehicles like websites, blogs, social media accounts and sponsored content.
Done right, brand journalism offers more than a sales pitch to potential consumers. It’s about providing useful information, ideas or opinions that audiences might not find anywhere else. It’s about adding value, not just promotional noise, to the customer relationship. It’s about developing stories that inspire, educate, or entertain audiences in a way that’s positive but authentic. It’s about starting and developing the digital conversations that lead to new customers.
Destination BC has embraced brand journalism as a key marketing strategy to inspire visitors to travel to British Columbia. As a provincial tourism organization, we’re uniquely positioned to collect, curate, create, and distribute inspiring travel content.
Early this year, DBC launched a new content team, composed of content managers and editors who source and develop content that will resonate with our audience. The team learns what content is most effective by relying on data—analytics, research, and insights that reveal what photos, articles, and videos are striking a chord with potential visitors.
In future, we’ll post monthly pieces about Destination BC’s content-marketing activities, and about the ways tourism destinations and businesses can incorporate brand journalism into their own marketing activities. In the meantime, if you’d like to connect with the DBC content team, you can email us: Editorial@DestinationBC.ca
Mapping the backcountry: Top tips for using Google Trekker from Destination BC
In March, Destination BC announced details of our BC Journeys project
, an ambitious plan to put BC on the map, literally, by travelling the backcountry to capture stories and images. Now,through partnerships with Google Maps and community destination marketing organizations, our team is working to add more images of trails and parks throughout the province to Google Street View. These routes are mapped using Google Street View Trekkers—a wearable backpack outfitted with 15 separate cameras that collect 360° panoramic imagery of remote outdoor locations inaccessible by car.
Destination BC is now encouraging tourism non-profit organizations in BC to apply directly to the Google Trekker lending program
to secure use of a unit. Please be sure to let Destination BC know when your application is successful by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are a few helpful tips for planning and using the trekker unit based on our experiences in the field:
Choose trails with variations in visuals and views
: We found that covering long routes with little variation in features (such as long stretches of forested areas) is not always compelling. We recommend choosing routes that “show off” the most visually inspiring or interesting trails: those that have beautiful views, for example, or varied terrain.
Record during the brightest times of day:
The cameras of the trekker unit work best during the brightest time of day-- often between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Avoid recording at dawn, dusk, or in densely forested areas.
Allow for weather contingencies:
The trekker unit cannot be exposed to water, so it may not be used in the rain. From an aesthetic perspective, it’s also preferable to show off a trail or route in good weather. Build extra days into your itinerary to accommodate poor weather or technical difficulties.
Prepare to cover approximately 10 km of trail per day
: The trekker unit is heavy, weighing about 20.5 kilograms (45 pounds), so hiking more slowly—with plenty of breaks-- is recommended. The trekker can be carried on foot, horseback, boat (with slow speed and low turbulence). The trekker cannot be mounted on a bicycle or a river raft.
Use a crew of two people to map routes
: Due to the weight of the unit and ancillary equipment (extra batteries, water, food, clothing, communication and emergency gear) we recommended that at least two people participate in the mapping process. Note that crew not wearing the trekker unit must walk a distance of approximately 50 metres away to avoid being consistently captured in the Street View imagery. Any faces captured on the imagery will be blurred in the editing process for privacy reasons.
Ensure access to power sources:
The trekker unit’s batteries require nightly recharging, so access to power must be considered when planning stays in the backcountry.
Communication and emergency gear
: Make sure to file a trip plan with staff at your organization, who can alert rescue groups if the trekker crew does not return on schedule. In addition to carrying adequate food and water for all members for the duration of the trip, we also recommend that the trekker crew carry with them the following gear:
Two-way radios for communication between the trekker team members
Cellular phone for front-country trails; satellite phone for remote areas
First aid kit
How to Work with Destination BC’s Content Team
Destination BC has worked hard to identify and grow an audience of travellers who are interested in British Columbia. Using our social-media accounts, websites, email newsletters, and other marketing channels, we tell the story of British Columbia directly to travellers.
Our adoption of brand journalism has lead Destination BC to create a new content team, composed of content managers and editors who source and develop content that resonates with our target audience.
The success of the team depends on engagement with stakeholders around the province. We need to hear from you! We’re looking to discover unique story ideas to share with our audiences around the world.
Here’s how you can connect with us to help profile your business in Destination BC’s content:
Ensure your region is up to date with your product. You can also update Destination BC’s content team directly at Editorial@DestinationBC.ca.
Add your regional office, and DBC’s content team, to your press-release distribution.
Let us know about any of your content we can amplify, such as videos or photos that you’ve produced.
Include the #ExploreBC hashtag on social-media posts, particularly Instagram, and encourage visitors to do the same.
We keep close track of the content we post, and have a good sense of what our audience engages with. Here’s what we’ve learned about what makes good content:
Wildlife—animals of all sorts—are always popular. Photos or video of whales, bears, and eagles are like candy for our audience. In the right context, cute animals like squirrels or even your neighbour’s puppy can create great results, too!
Insiders’ secrets, or locals’ tips, give audiences the sense that they’re getting in on authentic information they wouldn’t find elsewhere. It doesn’t have to be an actual secret (we promise we won’t reveal the location of your favourite fishing spot)—just a tip that makes a visitor feel “in the know.”
New trends highlight emerging interest. It doesn’t need to be a widespread craze—three makes a trend! If you see a small collection of businesses in your area capitalizing on a niche activity, let us know.
Unique or unexpected experiences often draw positive reaction. If you’re the only business you know of with a quirky or unique angle, let us know about that, too.
Our content team is eager to feature the amazing and diverse places and experiences available around the province. If you’d like to get in touch, email us: Editorial@DestinationBC.ca