Be honest. When was the last time you saw an online ad that you actually clicked on? Whether it’s inserted into our Facebook newsfeed, placed next to an article we are reading or even preceding a YouTube video, our brains have trained themselves to ignore anything suspected as an internet advertisement. With the seemingly limitless possibilities that the web brings for companies, there are almost the same amount of challenges. So how does a brand build awareness when people are getting better at ignoring them? By evolving. Enter the brand newsroom – the latest iteration in content marketing. Companies have begun engaging readers by intriguing them with their own content rather than obstructing the content they are seeking. And it’s proven to be remarkably effective. But a brand newsroom is more than a lone-wolf SEO writer. If your company is interested in creating a brand newsroom, there are a few things you need to think about. We put together a list of tips and best practices you can use as you develop your content strategy plan.
1. Commitment is integral. While producing your own content is a great way to reach potential customers, it cannot be a thinly-veiled advertisement in article form. Readers will see right through this – you have to be committed to producing real content. Journalists and content creators with strong writing and vision must be brought on to contribute in ways that will compel people to come back to and explore your site.
2. Someone needs to be in charge. Most brand newsroom gurus do not believe that a newsroom must have a centralized location. What’s more important, according to content strategy consultant Neil Chase, is to have a managing editor who understands three things: The brand’s goals, messages, products and potential audiences; the art of storytelling from experience in journalism, communications, or both; and the technology, tools, and partners needed to produce and distribute content effectively. If the person you put in charge has a grasp on these three things, staffing will be much less of a headache. This is a component that will set your brand newsroom apart from the more fledgling attempts.
3. Innovate and communicate. Within a traditional corporate structure, there are often policies in place that have led to a company’s success, so many on the executive level see any deviation from a long held path as a risk they are unwilling to take. This can lead to tension between the people providing a budget to publish content and the people providing the content itself. Crafting an elite business model and reaching readers with interesting stories are two entirely separate things, so whomever is in charge of overseeing the newsroom must know how to effectively communicate her or his message in a way that makes sense to a business-oriented mind. Neil Chase says this has “to be addressed by smart, creative, consultative people who go in and understand the regulatory or security issues, learn from the people behind those issues in respectful conversations, and come up with sound, innovative solutions.”
4. Don’t chase fads. While much of the allure of building a newsroom lies in the ability to rapidly reach people through topical means, this can actually be something of a trap. Many companies hopped on the brand newsroom bandwagon after Oreo’s Super Bowl power outage Tweet was retweeted 10,000 times in one hour, but a short term spike in conversation won’t necessarily lead to new customers. In fact, if a company is seen as trying too hard, it could actually cheapen their image. Producing quality content that stands on its own feet is the best way to cultivate long-term interest as opposed to chasing down the latest headline.
5. All good things to those who wait. Okay, so now you’ve put together a perfect newsroom team, they are producing quality content at a consistent rate and the publishing side of your brand is up and running. Now what? An all too common pitfall is the expectation that the views and clicks are going to immediately roll in. It can take years to cultivate a devoted and broad reader base. Sure, Buzzfeed is all over the place now, but nobody had heard of the site a couple years ago and they’ve been around since 2006. The best thing to do is allow your newsroom team to put out the best content they can and allow for a deliberate time frame for readership to grow.
There are numerous other aspects that inform the solid construction of a brand newsroom, but these are some of the strongest components we found. If you employ commitment, leadership, innovation, communication, a dedication to quality and patience, you could find your company sparking national conversations and substantially increasing your clientele.