We’re in the midst of a digital marketing battle and content is the weapon of choice. But understanding how to create value in an always-on, digital environment is no easy feat.
In order to stand out from the crowd, marketers are being forced to develop new skills and come up with all-new creative processes—processes that can keep up with the lightning-fast pace of the online world, where the content turnaround time from conception to launch is reduced from several days to mere hours.
This expeditious concept is far removed from the traditional marketing model, but closely resembles a framework that’s been slowly dying out in recent years: the traditional journalism newsroom.
The purpose of a newsroom has always been to create content in real-time. In the digital epoch, this means creating timely, high-quality content that’s culturally relevant and likely to achieve global scale.
But much like anything in marketing—or business in general, for that matter—the outcome will only be as good as the team behind it. So if your brand’s goal is to become a torchbearer in the content marketing world and the idea of a “brand newsroom” has piqued your interest, this post is most definitely for you.
Every brand’s future lies in content
A simple Google search will reveal countless articles on content being the “latest trend” in marketing. But consider this: 71 percent of B2B marketers are now using content marketing to generate leads and 24 percent of organizations now devote over half of their overall marketing budget to content. Does this really sound like a passing fad?
Content may be all the rage at the moment, but it’s with good reason. It’s perhaps one of the greatest tools at any marketer’s disposal and can be harnessed by large and small businesses alike. Large companies have the money and manpower to fuel their content strategy and their smaller counterparts have the agility, passion and patience needed to succeed.
The point is that content marketing isn’t just the future of brands—it’s the future of business. And if you’re hoping to build a team of world-class content producers that’s primed and ready to knock the socks off your competition, you might want to consider the novel “newsroom” approach.
A brief history of the brand newsroom
The content newsroom’s roots lie in the concept of brand journalism. While so-called brand journalism comes in many guises (corporate journalism, brand publishing, the list goes on), the endgame remains the same: to gain the trust of an audience by publishing material that’s honest, credible and tells a story.
In essence, brand journalism is where journalistic-style stories are told by or about a company, in the hopes that they will seize the interest of the reader in a way similar to that of regular editorial content. The goal is to tell a brand story without making it read like marketing or advertising material.
By this definition, brand journalism sounds an awful lot like content marketing, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because the foundations on which they’re both formed are actually pretty similar. Except that brand journalism takes the idea to a whole new level by applying the skills of the traditional journalist to the role of the content marketer.
So how can businesses start taking a brand journalism-style approach to their content marketing efforts? Let’s take a step back in time and revisit the glory days of traditional journalism.
The newsroom was a venerated place that never slept or missed a beat. Its inhabitants were typecast as being overworked (and underpaid) purveyors of truth dedicated to one common goal: to interpret the latest happenings around the world through stories.
The best journalists were those who took an audience-centric approach and whose main focus was building trust. The best modern day content marketing teams have much the same modus operandi and function a lot like the romanticized newsrooms of yesteryear.
The modern newsroom’s objectives: create, optimize, engage
Every good content-marketer-come-brand-journalist understands that content is not a sales medium—it’s about relating to customers and prospects and seeking to give rather than receive. But in order to fight for attention in today’s competitive media landscape, brands need to build their very own “learning machines”, according to Contently’s CCO, Shane Snow.
So what the hell is a learning machine?
As daunting as the concept may sound, he suggests imagining a so-called “learning machine” by picturing one of the simplest contraptions in history: the flywheel.
Snow argues that in order for a newsroom—brand or otherwise—to work well today, it needs to be creating content and “engaging audiences by seeding content through social, email, and paid distribution; and, finally, optimizing by examining the available data and figuring out what content to create next—and where to seed it.” (Source)
He adds, however, that as simplistic as the flywheel looks, there’s no magic formula for making a brand newsroom effective—it’s all about adopting the right philosophy and, for want of a better phrase, team members “busting their butts everyday”.
While traditional news reporting continues to slowly die out, content marketing only continues to gain momentum and is swallowing up larger and larger portions of brand marketing budgets. The overlap between journalism and content is clear, and explains why countless former reporters and newspaper editors have made the switch to content marketing.
So it’s natural then that businesses are beginning to build their own digital newsrooms to help drive their content marketing initiatives.
Who should be in your content newsroom?
No two newsrooms are alike and each and every one will likely be structured very differently. That said, there are some key roles that need to be present in order for it to operate proficiently.
Most content-related roles typically fall within one of three core categories: strategy, creation or promotion.
Will each of these newsroom factions overlap from time to time? Absolutely. But that’s what gives content newsrooms the agility they need to cut through the noise.
Tips for creating a knockout newsroom
The keys to any good newsroom—as any digital or print editor will attest to—are fluidity and collaboration between departments. But there are other characteristics which may prove invaluable when it comes to creating a terrific content troupe, some of which are outlined below.
Who’s the boss?
“There’s no point in reinventing the wheel,” “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,”—there are countless idioms that demonstrate the value in taking an existing concept and leveraging it for a new purpose. And, essentially, that’s exactly what forward-looking brands are doing—they’re taking the basic tenets of the traditional newsroom and bringing it into the digital age to aid their content marketing initiatives.
The idea of a brand newsroom is a fairly new one. But by getting in there early, you’re setting yourself up to build an epic team that’s guaranteed to create first-rate content that establishes thought leadership, converts readers into customers, and converts customers into evangelists.