Branded content, brand newsrooms, branded journalism, native advertising, brand publishing — these are all terms that weren’t part of common vernacular ten years ago, but with the growth of social media, the publishing industry has a new source of competition with very deep pockets — brands.
A Closer Look at Brands as Publishers
Today, brands are investing in content creation and publishing more than ever, and surveys show that investments in content marketing will grow in 2013 again. Brands are creating a lot of content in a variety of forms, including in-house written content, crowdsourced content, freelanced content, and agency-created content. Some brands have gone so far as to create their own internal brand newsrooms while others outsource the entire publishing process to their agencies.
Last month, Saya Weissman of Digiday reported that Virgin Mobile has its own newsroom which includes three in-house employees who manage it, four agency employees who create content, and four people from BuzzFeed who optimize the content to get the biggest bang for the buck from each piece. The team publishes content an average of 12 times each week, and in January 2013, Virgin Mobile’s content got 2.6 million views. Ron Faris, head of global marketing at Virgin Mobile, explained to Weissman, “We created our newsroom for a fraction of what it costs to create a 30-second spot. You can do it in the six-figures range.”
What Does Brand Journalism Mean for the Publishing Industry?
The good news is that well-done brand journalism should lead to higher quality content overall. Brands that want to protect their reputations are going to make sure they’re publishing useful content that their target audiences can trust and expect to receive from the brand. The brands that understand publishing will focus on topics that are consistent with their brand promise rather than just trying to jump on the bandwagon of any trending topic.
Real-time marketing will become the norm, but those efforts aren’t inherently linked with brand publishing. In other words, the companies that “get” brand publishing will get noticed for the right reasons while the others will need to retool or risk failure.
The Effects for Content Writers and Publishers
As mentioned above, the first effect of brand journalism that will impact content writers and publishers is an increase in quality content competition. It’s good news for audiences who will have access to more useful content, but it means potentially less traffic to smaller publishers’ content.
The second effect is much more positive for content writers and publishers. With an increase in brand publishing comes the need for more high quality writers to create that content through in-house or freelance work. Brands typically pay well, because content creation is still much cheaper than other traditional forms of marketing.
Ronn Levine, managing editor of the Specialized Information Publishers Association (SIPA) offered five tips for content writers and publishers in a recent SIPA newsletter:
- Highlight your credentials so people know who you are and what you can do.
- Start a blog to demonstrate your skills.
- Use your data to stand out from others by writing and publishing timely and relevant content.
- Update your website with images to increase its perceived quality.
- Keep writing and publishing good content. Once your content falters, all of your efforts in #1-4 above will fail.
What do you think of branded content and its effects on the publishing industry?
Image: Patrick Hajzler