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Communications Innovation: Brand Journalism and Cisco’s Corporate News Site

Brand journalism. Depending on what hat you wear in your organization,  you’ve likely heard, read or even followed the buzz around this relatively new trend in communications. Maybe, you’ve even tried it.

“At it’s most basic level, brand journalism involves honest brand storytelling that invites audiences to participate” says Kyle Monson, former tech journalist and editor at PC Magazine in a his article Dispelling the Darkness with Brand Journalism.

While brand journalism, or brand content as some prefer to call it, is talked about quite a bit, it is not as easy to find it in practice.  I know this, because I lead the content efforts on The Network, Cisco’s technology news site.

Several months ago we started “experimenting” with brand journalism (although, at the time, we really didn’t call it that…we just saw an opportunity and went for it). We began working with a team of seasoned journalists, names you no doubt know and have likely followed for years if you are a true technology enthusiast. Our expectations of the writers were, and still are, very simple: pitch and produce good, solid stories around topics that we, Cisco, are interested in such as collaboration, video, core networking, cloud, mobility and security to name a few. There is no requirement to mention Cisco at all, in fact a vast majority of the stories don’t…and that is just fine. Our goal is to lead the conversation, to spark engagement, to identify trends relevant to our business and the industry.

So that is the “brand storytelling” Monson refers to. As for the stories inviting “audiences to participate,” that is where sitting on the social media team really kicks this effort into high gear. Not only is social woven into everything we produce from commenting to social actions…we encourage our fans to take our content, republish it, share it…all we ask is that we’re credited. I’m telling you…this is the best deal around. We are offering FREE content from award winning, noted journalists on topics you are interested in. It might very well be the best deal of the decade…in my humble opinion.

I don’t think it can be stressed enough, this is a very different way of communicating at the corporate level. It looks and feels different and, to be very honest, we as a team get challenged, at times, on our approach by our own peers as they try to understand this new way of communicating. But, to me, this is where it gets exciting. This is where the real innovation starts to happen. I’m reminded of a conversation I had recently with a senior engineer at Cisco. He told me, if you have an idea and everyone around you supports it right off the bat, then it is not innovative…it is too obvious and likely has already been done, or soon will be. Alternatively, if you have an idea that causes a bit of disruption and you get some push back…you are likely onto something.

I’d say The Network is onto something. We’ve designed a very social site chock-full of solid content that is aligned with the company’s overall communications goals. While still in the experimental stage, we have gained recognition in the industry, most notably 2012 Webby Awards Official Honoree and Best Online Newsroom of the Year (Silver) 2011 Bulldog Digital/Social PR Awards. And, it’s not just Marketing and Communications pros taking note, top journalism schools are asking to learn more about what we are doing as they prepare their students for an industry in flux.

See for yourself what we are doing. Visit The Network. Read our stories. And better yet, Take. Share. Engage. The stories are there for the taking.

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Got A Question For @CiscoSystems?

March 12, 2012 at 11:58 am PST

Answers To Your Frequently Asked Questions

With over 100,000 followers to our Corporate Twitter Page, @CiscoSystems, we receive a decent amount of questions from the community. To help get your questions answered, we’ve outlined some frequently asked questions here for you.  If you do not find the answer you’re looking for, please send a tweet to @CiscoSystems and we will do our best to get your question answered in a timely manner. Thanks for engaging with us and happy tweeting!

Q: What is Cisco’s data center strategy?

A: Cisco is helping customers to unify their data centers with integrated compute, network, storage access, virtualization and management. Our end goal is to help organizations simplify operations, reduce costs, and improve business agility so they can better accomplish their business goals. With a Cisco Unified Data Center, customers report dramatic operational and cost improvements up to: 30 percent lower infrastructure costs, 90 percent reduction in deployment times, 40 percent improvements in application performance, and 60 percent reductions in power/cooling costs.

Q: What is Cisco’s collaboration philosophy?

A: From IP communications to mobility, customer care, Web conferencing, messaging, enterprise social software, and interoperable telepresence experiences, Cisco brings together network-based, integrated collaboration solutions based on open standards. These solutions offered across on-premise, cloud-based or virtualized platforms, as well as services from Cisco and our partners, are designed to help promote business growth, innovation and productivity through anytime, anywhere, any device communication. They are also designed to help accelerate team performance, protect investments, and simplify the process of finding the right people and information. For more information, visit http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps10680/index.html

Q: What is Cisco’s service provider video strategy?

A: Cisco’s service provider video strategy is to enable a new generation of TV experiences via Cisco Videoscape, a comprehensive TV platform for service providers that brings together digital TV and online content with social media and communications applications to create a truly immersive home and mobile video entertainment experience.   Videoscape is unique in that it  utilizes the cloud, the network, and client devices to deliver new multi-screen video experiences over the Internet.

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Adventures as an Intern: Digital PR Awards

Greetings from hot and humid New Orleans! I’ve been down here in the South for a little under a week, and I’m already starting to say “y’all.” This week has been busy getting settled and preparing myself for school to start next Monday; my textbooks are all lined up and ready to go on my desk right now. However, I had just enough time for another adventure, but this time with a different kind of newsroom.

Since the launch of The Network, Cisco’s Technology News Site a little over two months ago, the social media communications team has been hard at work developing and curating Cisco’s very own newsroom. The hard work is starting to pay off: We’ve been nominated for the Best Online Newsroom at the Digital PR Awards. The other contenders are Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide’s remodel of the Intel Newsroom (not to be confused with the Intel Free Press, which I explored in a previous post), the Baylor Health Care System Online Newsroom, and Fahlgren Mortine’s revamp of Crown Equipment’s Business to Business Social Media Newsroom. The finalists all shared many similar characteristics that have been helpful in making their newsrooms a success.

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Adventures as an Intern: The Oracle Press Room

  Not to sound overly cheesy, but time really does fly! I can’t believe it’s already August. In two weeks, I’ll be folding clothes and packing up to go back down to humid, hurricane-season New Orleans for school.   

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Adventures as an Intern: the EMC Social Media Newsroom

  Every tech company has a different policy when it comes to communicating news. Last week, I analyzed Intel’s Free Press newsroom. This week I decided to focus on EMC’s  Social Media Newsroom

  The site follows a traditional corporate newsroom with content that is primarily focused on EMC products and services. Social Media Newsroom houses press releases, news stories on the company, video podcasts and blogs on separate tabs in the middle of the home page. The video podcast tab features three different YouTube channels: Events, a Video Forum that includes whiteboard talks as well as videos shared by EMC employees, and Software. These video channels let readers interact with different aspects of the company. By using YouTube to host the video channels, EMC is able to reach a larger audience with catchy, short videos, even if the company isn’t necessarily marketing its products to a consumer audience.

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