about the client
The Manor Park Chronicle is a local area newspaper serving the Manor Park district of Ottawa, Ontario. An extension of the community council, the Chronicle covers news, events, and local businesses in an effort to provide readers with on-the-ground updates about the community at large.
I came on board with the Chronicle as the staff writer for the “Business Buzz” section, in which I interviewed local business owners and wrote up a brief piece about their organization and their connection to the Manor Park community.
Exploring Brand Journalism
Like many newspapers, the Chronicle is supported by advertisers. These advertisers were also the individuals that I was tasked with interviewing, which meant that each interview and article needed to provide critical community information without damaging the reputation of the business owner.
My goal as a writer in this role centered around the idea of brand journalism.
In short, brand journalism uses the just-the-facts reporting style of traditional journalism but uses it to cast the brand or company receiving the coverage in a favorable light. It’s not strictly unbiased, on-the-record reporting where my goal was to report what was said regardless of how it made the advertiser look.
Instead, I took the no-nonsense approach that I often take with clients I’m planning to interview: I sent my questions first, explained exactly how the interview process would go, and what the next steps would be from draft to publication.
I worked closely with the local area businesses to help spread the word about their organization while strengthening their relationship with the Chronicle as an advertising partner.
The Production Process
My process throughout production with the Chronicle is one that I often use for all of my clients.
1. Make contact and explain the process.
2. Prepare and send interview questions.
3. Conduct an on-the-record interview.
4. Write a draft.
5. Send a draft over for feedback and final approval from organizational stakeholders.
6. Finalize and submit the text for publication.
In situations where I’m dealing with decisionmakers and stakeholders who are often nervous about writers and other media personnel, I assure them that they’re a part of this process and that they’ll have a say in how a project comes together before publication.
You can’t do this in traditional journalism, but it’s an ideal approach for brands where customers and other influencers exist outside the organization. (Example: I’m working under an agency but need to interact with an agency client directly.)
Having a partner in a process when you feel like you’re on unfamiliar ground can be the assurance the client needs to complete the project.
Great Content & Great Relationships
My goal while working with the Chronicle was simple: Deliver great content and build better relationships.
I believe there is a place for hard-hitting, factual-based reporting — but a small, community-based paper where the readers want to know what new businesses are in town and how their community can better serve them isn’t the place to stir that pot.
Instead, I focused on creating content that readers cared about and using the platform to help businesses deliver on-brand messaging to clients through content that the readers found fun, engaging, and informative.