@Chris I agree. One benefit of using ex-journalists is that we have been trained to turn things around in real time, as well as master multi-platform storytelling.
For brands that are looking to build a newsroom, what is the value of keeping that effort in-house and building a team versus outsourcing it to someone else?
@Stephen: Regarding building VS outsourcing a brand newsroom: It really comes down to an organization’s financial commitment. There are economies of scale that are achieved by using an outsourced model. At the same time, retaining knowledge within your own corporate walls is important. I think the ideal situation blends both. External teams benefit by having in-house support.
April, do you think there is an issue then with journalists leaping into 'brand journalism' without enough actual years in 'traditional' journalism? As we're seeing as journalism jobs continue to disappear.
In-house or outsourced? What matters most is having skilled editors, writers, producers, sub-editors etc. Next they need to be empowered to publish without seeking approval from half a dozen people. You can make that work in-house and out of house. You can also make it fail in both scenarios!
@Stephen: It’s expensive to build an in-house team, but this is the preferable approach. At a minimum, you need someone internally with a vision and a sense of ownership over your effort. Outsourcing to an agency can boost your boots on the ground quickly, but you have to have someone internally leading the way.
To the question of hiring, there seems to be widespread agreement as to the hiring of journalists, but is there a specific skill set that brands should be looking for?
I don't think there is an issue with journalists making the transition. I've seen folks with no journalism experience whatsoever perform brilliantly in a brand newsroom setting, but it is a shift in both work timelines as well as trendspotting. The benefit of using journalists is that we're less likely to newsjack and less likely to engage in a conversation where a brand doesn't belong.
@shane You are probably right but it is worth considering hiring those people (the right people) and bringing them in-house
@Shane: I can certainly support that. A lot of clients come to /newsrooms because we have knowledge they don't have internally. For instance, producers and journalists with breaking news expertise are invaluable. Speed, discipline and quality control are learned in a news environment -- not something we usually find in-house at clients.
@Stephen: I think intellectual curiosity is most of it. I usually look for people with journalism experience and demonstrated success outside of journalism (PR, corp comm, etc). There are A LOT of journalists who can't deal with shift to the business side.
@Chris I think this is extremely well put: "Speed, discipline and quality control are learned in a news environment -- not something we usually find in-house at clients."
What advice would you offer journalists who might be considering a shift into a brand newsroom? There seems to be a paucity of listings in the traditional job search arenas, so how do they find these positions?
I'd also say our, ex-journalists, inherent love and respect for content and story telling
is so important in helping brands understand the difference between it and broadcast marketing.
@Stephen: For journalists who are considering a shift into brand newsrooms, there are plenty of opportunities. LinkedIn is a good source to find them, and most agencies are looking to hire journalists.
One of the value propositions /newsrooms delivers in this case is the network effect; we have journalists based all over the world. We've created content in 15 countries and are always recruiting talented journalists in virtually every major market. Shameless call for applicants! :)
@Meena: A lot of journalists don't realize the value of these specific skills and they're not marketing themselves well.
@Meena I don't think there is an issue with journalists making the transition. I've seen folks with no journalism experience whatsoever perform brilliantly in a brand newsroom setting, but it is a shift in both work timelines as well as trendspotting. The benefit of using journalists is that we're less likely to newsjack and less likely to engage in a conversation where a brand doesn't belong.
@Stephen for journalists considering a move, firstly understand this is NOT journalism. It uses many of the same skills and indeed amplifies them but it's not a seamless move. It's critical you understand the agency or brand you are moving to and that they share the same values a you regarding the importance of content and storytelling.
Once a brand has determined the need for a newsroom and made its hires, what advice would you give them in the early going? What should they expect and what are some common pitfalls and mistakes?
@Justin I agree completely. We are not breaking news in Brand Newsrooms, we are telling stories and leveraging moments-in-time so that these stories are heard.
@Stephen: Brands should have reasonable expectations. I'm looking at this from a content marketing perspective, not a PR/newsjacking one. Brand journalists should set an editorial calendar that aligns with the marketing plan and get some quick wins on the board. Show results and remember done is better than perfect. Three pretty good pieces of content in the first 30 days is better than one perfect piece – or none.
Also, brands should expect an evolution over time. Let your team experiment and fail in safe ways. Focus more on telling a good story, giving away more valuable information than you are comfortable with, and connecting on a values level. You want your audience to feel that they know you and like you, because people buy stuff from people they like.
@Stephen: Excellent question on what brands should expect in the early days. One thing we focus on intensely is learning. It's OK to have content that doesn't perform exceptionally well. Test. Learn. Move on.
Biggest pitfall: Not enough trust in brand journalists and not enough access.
It’s critical KPIs
are agreed at the outset. Do you want engagement ie no of views of your content, action ie no of leads generated, no of click throughs to your ecommerce site etc. Are brand metrics important? Are you measuring the impact on your influencers? If so can you measure this?
@chris Exactly. Measure, measure, measure and test. Iterate for success
@April & @Justin: In some cases brand newsrooms can and should break news. If a brand can package and deliver a story first, there are often huge gains to be made. Not every brand has the stomach for this.
@Stephen One of the myths we've had to clarify is that when you use a branded newsroom, you will have trends to activate against each day. Brand newsrooms aren't about hopping on every single trend, every single day. It’s about maximizing value by identifying and activating against trends and events that best align with the brand and context. Moments may arise a few times a week, or every few weeks.
How do brands measure success? How important is it for brands to quantify that success and use it to iterate?
@Stephen: Measuring success has to be continuous, and insights must be cumulative. Let's all move well beyond vanity metrics (e.g. What is a Facebook Like worth? What is a retweet worth?)
We'll even argue that "engagement" is a new vanity metric. Everyone is afraid of "conversion" and actually selling. That is the big KPI that you really need to drive toward, wouldn't you agree?
I understand that there is value in earned media, but I also believe that content needs to be tracked back to measurable results. I'm in marketing, so everything is about pipeline. There are different metrics for different stages of the pipeline. Early in the funnel, it can be as simple as impressions, likes, follows, RTs, etc. Later in the funnel, it gets into conversions, opportunities and closed deals. Post sale, it becomes about customer retention and their success. You connect content to revenue, and budget is really easy to come by. One campaign we did: $100k investment = $12.5M in booked revenue. That's easy math for your client.