As we close 2017 and begin looking forward to 2018, Relaxnews looks back on the trends and concepts that have been useful to our clients “brand journalism” strategies in the past year and uses those insights to look forward into 2018’s evolving content landscape. As the editorializer of Publicis Groupe, we believe that brand communication goes beyond product videos and creative advertising, and encourage brands to communicate and engage in long-term efforts to build their credibility. This practice often manifests itself as “brand journalism,” which involves becoming a credible source of information for audience members. Inspired by the best practices and cases of 2017, our leaders, co-CEOs Pierre and Jérôme Doncieux, created the checklist below to provide a starting point for crafting that strategy in 2018 and shared it at our recent “Brand Journalism Summit.”
Many of the best client cases we’ve seen have been successful thanks to:
- A strong understanding of the audience
- The use of relevant search terms to boost SEO
- A clear editorial line (consistent message) aligned with brand identity
- Appropriately adapted editorial content
These elements can manifest themselves in “brand journalism,” as well as content marketing, but we have found that they often only come to fruition when guided by a clear strategy. Begin crafting yours using our 8 pillars.
The 8 Pillars of “Brand Journalism” Strategy
1. Act like the perfect combination of Joseph Pulitzer and Jeff Bezos
Two figures that we look up to most are Joseph Pulitzer and Jeff Bezos. You may know of Pulitzer for his famous namesake “Pulitzer Prize.” We make a nod to his high standards for writing when we reflect on how to create a strong editorial line and high-quality content and to his belief that the future of today’s generations relies on a trained, public-spirited press. We look to Bezos, on the other hand, whom you may be familiar with as the mastermind behind Amazon, for inspiration on serial innovation in technology and an increasingly customer-centric vision.
2. Give your brand an editorial check-up
Does your brand have a regular heartbeat? If your content publication is so erratic that people may wonder if your brand still has a pulse, now is the time to perform a checkup. At Relaxnews, we do this with a four-step methodology:
- Editorializer Insights – An audit of current content creation intended to give an overview of current activity and look for strengths and weaknesses.
- Editorializer Point of View – An analysis of the current editorial line and its relationship with the brand and the brand’s goals and objectives. The two should be closely aligned.
- Editorializer matrix – The creation of a matrix that serves as the framework for consistent publication, so that your content will encourage engagement with audience members.
- Editorializer KPIs – An analysis and comparison of the impacts currently measured and those that should be.
3. Develop and establish an editorial line
Your editorial line rests on four key pillars:
- The concept – the message your brand needs to send to an audience.
- The promise and function – the intended outcomes for this message and the ways in which it is intended to impact your brand.
- The formats – taking into consideration which channel you will use to communicate, the format is the type of content that is most effective and resonates best with your audience – i.e. photo, video, article, infographic, etc.
- The temporality – the timing and urgency associated with a piece of content.
4. Determine your content publication rhythm
To provide “always-on” content for your audience members, you must establish a publication rhythm that is aligned with temporality, which we referenced in pillar number 3. As you determine what frequency at which you should be producing content to keep your audience engaged, you should alternate the publication of three main types of content:
- Evergreen news – which can be published at any time – ex: tips for clearer skin.
- Seasonal news – which can be published over a span of time, a few months or a few weeks – ex: a list of the best ski resorts.
- Breaking news – which must be published immediately, otherwise it loses relevancy – ex: the election of a new president.
5. Clean up your investments
Brands know that they need to communicate, but their efforts are often scattered, making for a messy strategy. The best way to clean things up and get a clear picture of how to execute your communication strategy is to examine your investments. The way you spend your money reflects your priorities.
People often assume that “if you’re talking about it and crafting a strategy around it, it must be a priority.” However, we’ve found that, while considering new tactics and strategies is important, if investments do not reflect your strategic considerations, then those discussion points are not priorities.
The best way to organize investments is to start examining the communications, advertising, and marketing spend for your brand and compare those expenses with your strategy and the revenue (or impact) that they currently generate. Then, begin organizing investments into four buckets: Must have, nice to have, useless, and toxic. At the end, you must be able to justify each bucket: why is one tool or provider a “must have” and why might another be toxic?
6. Industrialize your production
The life of a tweet is 4 seconds. The life of a Facebook or LinkedIn post is a matter of minutes. The content that you produce to distribute on these different channels must be adapted to meet their ephemeral nature, requiring content production that is always on. Your content production must run like a well-oiled machine. To achieve that level of efficiency, you need to find a solution that allows you to “industrialize” production. One person is not enough; you need a small army.
Externalizing content creation and using technology to streamline publication is the most economical solution to “industrialized” production. Content Marketing Platforms (CPMs), like my editorializer, facilitate that effort. According to Forrester, brands’ need for CPMs is growing. CPMs provide the technology that allows brands to have “an editorial studio in a box, a back-end enterprise marketing planner, or an enterprise engine that plans and orchestrates customer experiences across channels.” Once you have reorganized investments, this option may be one to add to the “must have” category.
7. Be smart, fast, and reliable
At Relaxnews, we promise services that are “smart, fast, and reliable.” Our upholding of this promise is integral to the quality of our production as a news agency. When brands become a source of information for their audiences, they must fulfill the same promises.
- Smart – brands must provide high-quality news and editorial content adds value to readers’ experience.
- Fast – brands should provide important information or “breaking” news linked to the topics that they communicate on with their audiences as soon as that information becomes available.
- Reliable – brands should only share factual, verified information.
8. Be agile
Finally, as with any other type of activity, creating strong editorial content requires tests, failures, and learning. As you integrate this new tactic into your communication strategy, it is normal and expected that you may not be successful at every turn. Test formats, topics, and angles on your audience to see how they respond. If the result is negative, regroup, correct, and try again. Being agile consists of having faith in the process, being open to experimentation, and always learning and adapting as a result of failures.
Approach your new strategy with these 8 pillars in mind to avoid some of the most common mistakes that brands make when trying to keep up with the growing need for content.
Should you want to enlist help or guidance as you craft your new strategy, for a limited time, Relaxnews is offering one hour of free editorial consultation to help you get started. Contact us to schedule your appointment. (Note: this page is in French, if you’d like to contact us in English, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org)