Brand newsrooms are all the rage.
Numerous brands like Coca-Cola, Verizon, Intel, and American Express are investing in large digital operations that look more and more like media companies. As brands make the shift from selling their products and services via paid advertising to engaging and entertaining their customers through content marketing, the question for most brands is not “Should we?” but “How should we?”
In other words, how do you establish and scale the brand newsroom?
Today’s Brand Newsrooms
Most big brands are following the old media playbook. Hire a team of experienced writers and editors. Invest in a freelance network of writers – either build your own or hire from a number of third-party providers, like Contently, Skyword, or Crowdsource. Then, just publish content to a blog and social channel.
But there are three key problems with this one-dimensional approach:
- Cost. Most brands can’t afford to create their own publishing operations, hire their own writing staff, and spend amply on freelance contributors like the big guys can.
- Speed. While originating content is a smart move for any content marketer, brands need to operate faster than they can create content. The world is moving at real-time speed and brands must do so too or they will be left behind.
- Perspective. Hiring writers to produce original content is a good idea but brands also need to be able to diversify their voice beyond their own point of view into the broader context of their industry, customers, and market.
Tomorrow’s “Real-Time” Brand Newsroom
Brands need to embrace new technologies to accelerate this shift. This now means figuring out how to quickly leverage technology to gauge trends, listen, discover, curate, comment, and publish content. Brands need to set up a content operation that mimics a modern editorial newsroom. Original content is one strategy – but solely focusing on this approach greatly limits both perspective and the ability to truly scale. Instead, the savvy content operator embraces curation as a complementary tactic, as I discussed last month in my piece on content mixology.
The best traditional publishers have always had a freelance network. So, we know it’s a good idea to leverage cost-effective resources to scale and provide more specialized expertise. But, realistically, they just author more content, they’re not really curating or providing original commentary – two highly effective methods to optimize your content. Ultimately, this is too limiting for a freelance network model to fully scale.
The key is a combination of original content writers, in-house curators who know your brand intimately, and outsourced curation contributors who broaden perspective. Brands can tap in to the vast pools of talent who could become curators because these skills are more easily developed than writing. While many members of a company’s trusted network would never write an article or create a video, these valuable resources can easily lend their insight to your unique brand voice because social tools have taught everyone how to share content. This development means there are far more potential curators in your network than writers. That is no slight on the value of original content – it just shows that a mix helps you scale and diversify your output.
Further, however they define it – partners, employees, clients, friends – brands need to leverage their own content intelligence networks. What does this look like? How do brands go about making their own content intelligence network hum and thrive?
Here are five tips to help scale your brand newsroom to move at real-time speed.
Creating a Real-Time Content Network for Your Brand
- Identify your content intelligence network. Identify who in your brand’s sphere of influence can be recruited to curate content. Employees, subject matter experts (SMEs), partners, advisors, freelancers/contractors, customers/users/community members – these are all options that can contribute to your brand’s perspective.
- Curate your network. Identify internal members of your team or hire a “curation/community manager” to oversee curated content submissions. Brands can draw on talent with experience running older digital communities like discussion boards and forums. Managing a network of curators is conceptually similar to community managers moderating posts in chat rooms of the past to keep things on topic. Those skills can be repurposed to monitor the flow of content into your marketing channels.
- Establish content rules of the road. Establish and communicate content rules and topics for your network. This includes how often, from what sources, and what formats things are allowed: video vs. articles vs. tweets and so on. Encourage commentary to package the curator’s insight alongside the content to add more value for the reader.
- Select your toolbox. Lock in a tech strategy to use software and content discovery tools to collect and queue up your content and ingest it back into your blogging and social media tools. Email and cut and paste isn’t going to work at social, real-time speed.
- Measure, rinse, and repeat. Track performance to see which contributors curate content that drives traffic, engagement, conversions, etc. Get the feedback loop going and make sure the best of your network keep your channels flowing with fresh, interesting content.
Brand newsrooms are evolving quickly and I expect brands to continue to invest heavily in content. But smart brands will realize they can tap in to an extensive network of knowledgeable contributors who can curate the best of the web and place the brand at the center of today’s fast-moving conversations and communities.