The term ‘brand newsroom’ feels like another buzzword, heard alongside jargon-packed conversation favourites such as big data, sticky content and actionable insights. But what are brand newsrooms? Are they another flash in the pan, or are they here to stay? asks Andie Tickner, group account director at creative agency Edge.
The term itself may be a buzzword but the evolution is nothing new. Not unlike newsrooms for newspapers, brand newsrooms are a habitat for journalists, producers, editors, copywriters, videographers and photographers, who are all driven by a desire to uncover and publish great stories.
Brand newsroom teams are generally smaller than their newspaper cousins and members wear many hats. Today’s editors are also strategists, content creators, digital gurus, slash copywriters and ideas people. This ’slashie’ model makes for efficient creation of expert content that is quickly distributed.
The point is for people to see content, like it and share it; to create a ready-made army of advocates who are open wide to your brand’s messages. In time your brand sentiment improves, as does the size of your audience. Easy, right?
But before you run amok, laughing at your own memes, listicles and vines and getting deep into the black/blue or white/gold dress debate, you need to futureproof your newsroom with a plan.
Here are my tips:
- Develop an editorial content strategy. Uncover your brand’s unique story and support it with pillars and themes for your brand and products. Rationalise each output.
- Know your audience and their needs. Your strategy provides direction and minimises negative feedback by helping you to remain relevant in content and tone.
- Set objectives, KPIs and measurement parameters. Tweak these at least monthly.
- Explore content formats across different channels. Optimise audience consumption. One size doesn’t fit all, so be targeted and play to formats that work.
- Use experts. Maximise success by hiring hybrid teams that can curate, conceptualise, create and publish.
- Be committed. This is a medium to long-term play, so be prepared to test and learn.
- Resource to act quickly. The Holy Grail is real time, but if you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything at all.
- Get it in the can. Stock planned content in advance of known events to create clever, timely content.
- Get your wallet out. Organic reach is in decline, so you need to support your content with paid media to get reach.
- Be flexible. As your brand, your audience and social platforms evolve, so should your strategy. A strategy that works is not a strategy for life.
- Be collaborative and make Legal your friend! It’s important that the entire business supports the newsroom to enable you to act quickly.
Setting a daily structure can be a great way to create dedicated time for ideas, feedback and approvals. Set parameters with legal and clarify potential risks. Try to get approval on a range of scenarios that will likely play out, and steer away from product sales messages – you’ll save weeks stuck in legal approvals.
One thing is certain: The newsroom isn’t going anywhere soon. Find a process that works for your brand and be ready to view this as an ever-evolving model. With the role of the customer being so important, think about using UGC (user-generated content) and collaborating with influencers, creators and like-minded brands to continue to inspire, entertain and innovate.