Marketing has come a long way from the days when brands fired off a press release, hoping to get coverage in the newspaper. These days, smart brands are running their own newsrooms, publishing their own content and building their own audiences.
Brands like Red Bull, GE and the Australian Football League are all creating articles, videos, podcasts and infographics for their fans to use, consume and share.
But you don’t need a multimillion dollar budget to create a successful brand newsroom. It works for small and medium-sized businesses, too.
What is a brand newsroom?
Let’s start with a quick definition. What is a brand newsroom?
The generally accepted, rather broad definition of a brand newsroom is: “an organisation that drives a brand’s publishing efforts”. That sounds kinda vague, huh?
Think of it this way: a brand newsroom is the people and resources used to create and publish original content designed to inform, entertain, educate and reach a brand’s existing and potential audience and, ultimately, drive profitable customer activity.
That could look very different from one company to the next. It could mean dozens of on-staff writers, producers, and videographers and millions of dollars in investment, or it could mean one member of staff in a small business taking half a day out of their working week to write and publish a blog post.
The important point here is that the goal is the same—to drive profitable customer action through engaging original content.
Here’s how to build a brand newsroom.
1. Start with a content strategy
Like any other investment you make in your business, you need a plan. It’s essential to tie your content marketing activity to business objectives.
- What goals are you trying to achieve?
- How do you plan on meeting those goals?
- What activity are you currently undertaking that may be generating interest but won’t convert to one of your objectives?
A content strategy should also address all the remaining points below.
2. The audience is everything
For your brand newsroom to be successful, you need to understand your audience. The whole point of creating original content is to engage your audience and convert them into customers, so at the very least you need to know the basics:
- Who is your audience?
- What do they want?
- Where are they?
- How do you reach them?
- What action do you want them to take?
FURTHER READING: Content marketing: Do you really know your target audience?
3. Get the right people in place
Who is going to create your content? Will you allocate time and resources in-house, or will you work with an agency or freelancers?
The important thing is to have someone (or a team) creating and publishing your content who knows what they’re doing, who can follow a strategy, who understands at least the basics of SEO and social media, and who ‘gets’ you, your business, your objectives and your audience.
4. Know your SEO
Successful content marketing requires a mixture of logic and magic. The magic of creativity will get you a long way, but if you really want to make an impact, you need to employ the logic of SEO.
Optimising your content for SEO can mean the difference between appearing on the first page of Google results and thousands of people seeing your content and appearing on page 37 and no one seeing your content.
Good SEO practices include everything from using the right keywords in copy to including meta descriptions and title tags on blog posts.
Here’s a recent podcast from the team at Brand Newsroom talking about the importance of SEO.
5. Create the right original content
Once you know whom your audience is, you need to make sure you’re creating content that matches their needs. To do this you need to know:
- What information are they looking for?
- How do they like to consume that information? (Is it a blog post, a video, a podcast?)
Use Google Analytics or a web-based service like answerthepublic.com to find out what search terms people are looking for that intersect with the products and services you provide.
For example, if I’m a pet store and I want to sell more kitty litter, a quick search tells me people are Googling everything from “what kind of kitty litter is best for kittens?” to “can kitty litter kill you?”
6. Have a call to action
Once your audience has engaged with your content, what do you want them to do? Be sure to include a “call to action” so the person knows what to do next.
Possible calls to action include:
- “Subscribe to our newsletter”
- “Call us about our services”
- “Get a quote”
- “Start a project with us”
This is the point where you’re hoping to “convert” the person reading, listening or watching. In marketing speak, you’re pushing them further down the funnel towards a purchase.
7. Publish often; publish well
It’s important to publish to a schedule. Whether it’s once a day, once a week or twice a month, it doesn’t matter—the important thing is to stick to it. If you want to build a loyal audience, they need to know they can rely on your content being there when you say it’s going to be there.
You also need to ensure every single piece of content you publish is of the highest possible quality. Make sure every blog post has been proofread, the audio in your podcast is pleasant to listen to, and your video looks smart and slick. Every piece of content you publish could be someone’s first impression of your business.
8. Amplify and distribute
Remember the film Field of Dreams? The famous (slightly misquoted) line you’ll often hear repeated is “if you build, they will come”.
The truth is, building something will only get you so far. You normally need to tell someone you’ve built the thing so they know about it. It’s the same with content marketing.
For your brand newsroom to be successful, you must have a strategy to amplify and distribute your message so more people hear it.
That could include free solutions, like posting to social media or email newsletters, or paid solutions, like pay-per-click advertising.
FURTHER READING: Is Content Marketing The New SEO?
9. Build partnerships
Let me pitch another common saying at you: many hands make light work. That’s certainly true when it comes to content marketing. Create new and leverage existing relationships to help get your content noticed and to keep your audience engaged.
Here are some examples of partnership building I’ve seen work well in some of the brand newsrooms I’ve been involved with as managing editor.
- Formalising partnerships with industry, so they provide regular, original and exclusive content
- Forging relationships with traditional media, by providing original and exclusive content for them to publish (linking back to your site)
- Using influencers to amplify your content
- Having organisations or individuals provide related products or services that might be of interest to your audience, as giveaways and competition prizes
- Advertising-related partnerships.
10. Become a destination
Create content that keeps your audience coming back. As an old editor of mine from my daily newspaper days used to say when I’d pitch a story “don’t give me today’s news; I want to know what’s going to be news tomorrow”. If you want to be a leader, if you want people to actively seek out your content, you need to add value beyond that which your audience can get anywhere else.
Invest that little bit more. Do your research. Dig deeper. Offer the better product, the more useful information, the deeper analysis—whatever it is—and deliver it well. Whether it’s a blog, a podcast or a YouTube channel, you can turn your content platform into a destination.
11. Be authentic; be generous
Successful content marketing isn’t a one-way street. You shouldn’t think of it as standing in a pulpit, delivering a sermon, and hoping the congregation walks away feeling enriched.
Instead, think of every piece of content as a kick-off point for a conversation—more like presenting at a conference, sharing your insights and experience, and then throwing it open to questions from the floor.
You need to interact with your audience. Be available. Respond to comments and social media posts. It builds trust with them.
And, above all, do it all in your real voice. Be you. If your audience thinks you’re not authentic, they won’t trust you, and they won’t be back.
Here’s a podcast from the team at Brand Newsroom about the importance of authenticity.
12. Capture the data; convert the customer
Having people visit your newsroom regularly is fantastic, but you need to be able to contact those people when you have a message you want them to hear. You need to get them to subscribe, so you’ve captured their data.
Make sure you:
- Make it as easy as possible for people to subscribe
- Have subscribe pop-ups and buttons clearly displayed on your website
- Offer incentives for people to subscribe, like access to special reports or deals.
Make sure you’re always building your own database. You want email addresses and a real subscriber list. Don’t be reliant on third-party platforms like Facebook or Twitter to contact your subscribers—you never know when those platforms might change the rules, or disappear completely.
If you’d like to know more about the brand newsroom model and how it can revolutionise your business’s relationship with your audience, give us a call.