Brands should have seen the writing on the wall. The rise of banner ads, link building, social media promotions, content marketing, and native advertising have all perpetuated this eventual collision between brands and publishers. As with every trend before it, the digital marketing evolution is initiated by some ineffectiveness of its predecessor.
Banners were rendered obsolete from banner blindness, search algorithm updates are making low-quality content and links ineffective, and the growing price of paid media, especially social, is minimizing the ROI brands achieve on these platforms. All of these factors are leading brands to make the transition and investment to internalize a department designed to thrive in this new landscape.
This digital landscape is one grounded in immediacy, relevancy, efficiency, and quality. While traditional marketing departments were built for relevancy and efficiency, they are not always designed to generate quality assets on the fly. Because of this, there is a growing movement towards a “brand newsroom.”
The “brand newsroom” is not a ground breaking idea. News media across the world have proven its validity, only now, brands are realizing they can leverage this same publishing style to market their product or service. Brands are becoming publishers as a way to satisfy the audience’s need for immediate, relevant and quality information. The “brand newsroom” creates audience-centric content that informs and/or entertains while reinforcing values, beliefs, and core competencies of the brand.
They say that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. This was the case with the infamous “Oreo Super Bowl Blackout Tweet” from 2013. Certainly it was not just luck that Oreo was able to produce that clever Tweet so quickly. They had spent months creating immediate content for other campaigns, so when this opportunity finally arose, they knew how to produce something in a quick amount of time.
This ability to quickly move content from conception to creation is one of the biggest benefits to a brand newsroom. An effective brand newsroom is built with multiple parts trained to complete a variety of tasks and job positions:
- Social media managers
- Copy creators
- Digital media designers/developers
- Quality assurance and editors
- Promotions and outreachers
By utilizing a diverse group of creatives, a brand is able to produce and publish a high-volume of varied content for any medium quickly and effectively.
In line with the immediacy aspect of brand newsrooms, the growing need for digital marketing is to produce relevant and topical content. By having the ability to produce content on the fly, you can now match your brand’s message with current events and trends that your audience is discussing at any given time.
The average persons attention span is 8 seconds and the window for trending topics is always closing. This means the time your brand has to create relevant content for your industry or audience is minimal. By developing a newsroom publishing strategy, you will equip your brand with the resources needed to produce relevant content. This relevancy aspect will extend your brand’s reach ten-fold and can improve the effectiveness of your content.
A successful brand newsroom is one that can handle the relevancy and immediacy aspects without giving way to errors that arise with change or flux. This controlled chaos mentality is not what traditional marketing was built on. Traditional marketing was structured, it relied on research and planning. This new age mentality requires rapid decision-making and the ability to pivot on a whim. The brand newsroom gives your marketing team that ability.
Unfortunately, not everyone is built to thrive in the flux environment of a brand newsroom. This has led many brands to bring in journalist and other traditional newsroom employees to run or work within their content marketing department. The background and experience of these individuals having already worked in a fluid newsroom before, increases the efficiency of the brand newsroom.
Brands like Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, Hubspot, and Kapost are just a few that have hired experienced journalists to work for their marketing team.
Efficiency with your publishing efforts will improve the results. It will also keep your brand from making mistakes (see Digornio). When done right, a brand newsroom will improve the efficiency of your content development and will lead to better messaging and branding.
The root of the brand newsroom is a publishing platform that brings value to your audience. After all, if your product or service is not satisfying your customers’ needs, they will find an alternative. This is the same with information and your branded content. Thus, the brand newsroom is designed to create highly engaging content that evokes emotions while driving home the core competencies and vision of your brand.
The steady trend in content marketing through the past few years has been a transition towards high-quality content. In addition to creating immediate and relevant content, an effective brand newsroom must provide valuable, informative content that keeps users coming back and engaging. Take Airbnb’s economic impact study: the content is anchored with data, but is still done in a way that keeps the audience engaged.
An effective brand newsroom is one that leverages the versatility of trained creatives to quickly capitalize on relevant topics by producing and publishing highly engaging content that naturally weaves the brand’s identity into the fabric of the piece. I know this seems cumbersome and expensive, but if your brand can effectively build a newsroom that functions as we’ve discussed, then overtime you will be able to allocate less money towards former digital strategies that are slowly become ineffective.
To help you get the creative juices going here are 10 brands that are already utilizing the newsroom mentality and building a publishing enterprise!
1. Red Bull
Red Bull is arguably the most innovative brand publisher out there. They have created their own internal media company dedicated to providing its target audience with high-quality, engaging content designed to evoke emotions and not sell Red Bull. They are widely known for their content more than their actual product, and have cemented their brand as “edgy, exciting, and innovative”.
2. American Express
American Express started the OPEN forum project as a way for small businesses to join the community and engage, share, and collect advice about running their company. This is a great example of empowering users as the journalists and OPEN forum has connected American Express to the idea of “business.”
There is no denying the brand power of Coke. They started the Coca Cola Journey initiative as a way to emphasize the story-telling ability of their brand. Coke has already become a synonym for “soda” and this brand publishing initiative is now trying to take over terms like inspiration, happiness, and other opportunistic adjectives. Coke’s publishing style is founded in knowing exactly what they want users to think of when they think of Coke.
Much like American Express, Cisco is trying to position their brand as a knowledge-based community that helps solve problems. Their publishing strategy is focused on breaking technology news and providing quality resources for users to collect information and solutions. They even call their portal the “Cisco Newsroom”.
5. The North Face
The North Face is another brand that is founded on the idea of exploration and experiences. They have built a branded portal properly labeled “NeverStopExploring.com” that further perpetuates the tie between The North Face and the outdoors.
Zipcar’s publishing platform cleverly labeled “Ziptopia” aims to connect Zipcar with the ideas of simplicity and convenience. The content is highly informative and geographic specific, both concepts that Zipcar wants users to think of when they think of the brand. Ziptopia does a great job connecting the brand with topics that Zipcar wants to be tied to.
Oreo makes the list for its wonderful combination of simplicity and innovation. Properly remembered for the famous Super Bowl tweet, Oreo did not stop there. They continue to be the forefront of brand publishing, seamlessly integrating on-site creative content and social media posts.
8. Best Western
Best Western’s “You Must Be Trippin” travel blog is a great way to highlight the brands unique selling proposition. Best Western does a great job blending the emotional appeal of traveling with a heightened target towards families. You Must Be Trippin is more than just a catchy tagline, it’s a great example of a hotel brand perpetuating travel through content.
9. Johnson and Johnson
Johnson & Johnson struck gold with their Baby Center publishing platform. With mothers being one of their largest target market, they decided to build a community for this audience. Baby Center is devoted to providing quality information and resources to mothers with a small hint of J&J thrown in. One of the most valuable aspects of Baby Center is its ability to provide J&J with an incredible wealth of data, more so than Facebook or Twitter!
Similar to Best Western, FlipKey is a travel-centric company that is looking to convert travelers into clients. FlipKey innovates by combining a variety of different content forms with their publishing brand. They created interactive city guides that take users on a virtual tour, and then combined the tours with live chats from locals of each destination. FlipKey’s brand publishing strategy is designed to not simply market the brand, but to market the destination and the experience.
As you can see, several large brands are already implementing the brand publisher strategy. The ability for content to connect your brand with an emotion or idea is an extremely valuable marketing tool.
Building a publishing platform that uses the brand newsroom strategy of high-quality and consistent, user-centric content is a perfect approach to succeed at content marketing in 2015 and beyond!
Feature image: Credited to ImgKid.com