I often get asked by people on Twitter and via email, or when I give seminars, this question. “What’s the next big thing in social.”
The answer, in my opinion is quite simple. The next big thing isn’t a thing. It’s a place. That place is everywhere. Back in December, I gave a presentation and it was wrapped around one single word. That word is “ubiquity”.
I said it then and it has become quite prophetic. I didn’t have a crystal ball. I just have kept my fingers on the pulse of social and I’ve lived fully immersed in social. Ubiquity, IMO, is the next big “thing” if you will.
Those brands that can deliver valuable content to their audience where they want it, how they want it, when they want it and in the format that they want it, are winning.
Social isn’t static and that’s the reason it makes so many people uncomfortable. To succeed you must be fluid, agile, fearless and live by the “Law of Diffusion of Innovation“. Always be hitting the “why” target.
One of the ways to do just that is to develop a brand newsroom. It’s kind of funny to see all of the hype surrounding this concept. Many of us having been delivering content for years. Now, finally, brands are realizing that they need to be creating, curating and publishing great content as well. There is so much out here to see beyond the commercial or ad and in this digital era, we are all the media.
As soon as something begins hitting the front end of the bell curve everyone wants to know about it and the trades begin picking up on it.
Using owned, paid and earned media provides brands with the opportunity to tell their story to the world. What would you say is your brand’s story? How many people know that story?
That’s what the newsroom concept is about. Why is this important for your brand? Content marketing tells YOUR story, on your platform, in a controlled space with the objective of driving traffic and providing the end user with the best possible experience.
As I’ve said above, we are all media at this point. It makes complete sense to control your story across multiple screens and multiple platforms.
It’s not easy to do this. You need competent legal counsel, an informed and aggressive staff and most importantly a willingness to be creative. There’s an art, and a risk, to creating real-time, contextually relevant content. There’s also a great deal of authenticity to it as well. But that’s what makes it so rewarding.
Many brands won’t find this concept appealing. IMO, this might just be right in your brand’s sweet spot.
Check out the resource guide I curated below. And yes, I am the media! Join me.
Content + Conversation = Commerce
The press release is no longer going to drive the type of coverage you want… Everyone is kind of a media company, but everyone is really bad at it.
Lately I’ve been getting some requests to help brands and agencies on their projects to create social newsrooms. So I’ve decided to expand this post with some additional information.
If you are considering building a brand newsroom, there are some baseline prerequisites that must be addressed and understood.
1. Legal Concerns: The information that you will be curating and aggregating for use on your site will either be covered under the Fair Use doctrine or an original piece of content that you create. It can also be interpreted as being legal under the TOS of the various networks. Here is information regarding the TOS of the various social networks.
There are no absolute guarantees that someone won’t sue you for what you curate or post. But there aren’t any guarantees that someone won’t sue you for serving them bad food at a dinner party. If you’re lawyer is risk adverse and is telling you that you’re going to be held liable for everything you write, find another lawyer. Or don’t create a brand newsroom.
Brands need to create a road map that lets them talk about some things without legal approval, which allows them keep a consistent stream of stories flowing to readers. For content that still needs sign-off, there has to be a clear approval process.” – Michael Hess who designed the Verizon Wireless News Center
2. No Sales Copywriters!: Your job is to create, curate and publish content that people actually want to read, view, share, comment and interact with. using a copywriter is the kiss of death. You need to write at a 5th grade level. You need to produce videos that people find funny, informative, entertaining or educational. The object of a brand newsroom isn’t to overtly sell products. The objective is to entertain your audience.
3. Staffing The Right People: You’re creating a newsroom. You’re not manning Twitter and Facebook. You need a completely different kind of staff. Anyone can respond to a Tweet or a Facebook update. However, the newsroom staff is quite different. Here’s what I suggest you’ll need to be a true editorial force.
The ideal newsroom would be populated with:
- Videographer– a videographer with editing skills…someone who is comfortable with a camera and can use an editing program like Sony Vegas, Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere
- Photographer– a photographer who doesn’t have to be a professional but someone who knows how to capture moments and understands framing and has Photoshop/editing skills
- “Reporters” -3 or 4 staff members with a journalistic background who are proficient in crafting stories, understand Twitter and Google trends, has a working knowledge of Reddit and Imgur and has basic SEO skills. They would also have to know their way around WordPress.
- Newsroom Director-a director, executive producer editor type of person who keeps everything running smoothly and manages the quality control aspect of the operation
- Social Media Manager– social media manager who is assigned to the news team to specifically distribute the content to the various social profiles. This person would also perform regular reports and analysis on the performance of the content and respond to the content commentary
- Graphic Designer – someone to make sure all of the image and video placements look “on-brand” and to oversee everything from fonts to css styling
- Chief Content Officer – The new C-Suite addition. Arguably this person will be the most important part of the operation. They have to “get it” and facilitate buy-in and content strategy. This person is also responsible for navigating other business units in the agency or brand. This person also has to be a dinosaur tamer!
“Many long-time employees can be resistant to change, and a brand newsroom is a huge shift away from traditional communications. Understanding people’s concerns – and making sure they buy in – is crucial.”
This staffing level would be a small operation for a brand or agency. Obviously you would need to scale accordingly.
4. Volume: In my opinion, there’s no reason to install a newsroom if people aren’t going to work it. I would suggest that with a team of this size, there’s no reason that you can’t publish 10-20 pieces of content per day. I’m not advocating throwing just anything out there. I’m talking 10-20 pieces or more quality pieces of content. Between a blog, Vine, Instagram and YouTube, 20 pieces of quality content per day should be a minimum that that this team should be able to produce.
The ultimate commandment of a brand newsroom… make me care!
5. It’s All About The Content: Brand newsrooming isn’t about simply newsjacking. It’s not about simply jumping into every trend. It’s about finding the sweet spot. It’s that arena where you want to tell your story. It’s about telling a story that YOUR audience wants to hear or see. It makes no sense to write about fashion if you’re a hamburger joint. Or does it?
That’s where the creative juices flow. It’s about finding timely, relevant stories that can be contextually crafted to be relevant to your audience. It’s all about perspective.
“The biggest things that brands need to think about are the topics and themes that matter to their customers and how can they be a valuable member of that conversation—not just the conversation that is trending at any given moment in time on social media.” Adam Ostrow- Mashable
Focusing on click-bait is for shit. There’s a HUGE opportunity in creating great stories. Brand stories fill a void created by a vacuous mainsteam media. The time is right for brands to tell their own story to fill the void left by the mainstream media.
While some curation is fine, your gold will be in producing compelling, original content. curation is your garnish. The power behind your newsroom is in insightful original content.
Think about this. Most networks run syndicated (curated) programs and movies. But there main money makers are their original shows and series.
6. Culture Shift: Building a brand newsroom is a commitment. Success will NOT happen overnight. It can take months to build an audience. This isn’t about building a campaign or quarterly initiative. It’s about building an audience and a body of work that reflects a cultural change within an organization.
7. Avoid Noise: There is an unbelievable amount of content being produced everyday. We have all seen the statistics. It’s mind-blowing to understand how much content is being published. In order to stand out your content has to rise above the fray and be an inspirational delight to the end user designed to build a relationship.
8. Measurement Is Critical: Measuring a newsroom’s effectiveness can be quite the task. However there are 5 variables that you can easily measure. using a software like Simply Measured can make this data analysis quite simple. Here are the metrics to focus on.
- Brand Awareness– how many pageviews, unique visitors, reach, impressions, share of voices and keywords used to get to the content.
- User Engagement– measure user interaction with comments, shares, tweets, time on site etc.
- Perception– You’ll want to pay attention to brand lift, re=posts, referrals and sentiment
- Customer Acquisition and Retention– Subscriber base changes, email open rates, etc.
- Conversions– does the native advertising on the content result in leads, sales that will help you to determine your closing ratio and cost per customer acquisition
9. Core Competencies: A successful brand newsroom is powerfully transformative and can deliver tremendous return on investment but it has to be empowered, truly agile and not restrained by a over-reaching approval process.
10. Infrastructure– In order to have a brand newsroom, you’ll actually have to have… a newsroom of sorts. Actually you could do this remotely but most agencies and brands are going to want to have a newsroom on site. At minimum this is what you’ll need:
- CMS– whether you go with WordPress or a custom designed installation, you’ll need to have a platform to manage your workflow. And it should reside on a domain or subdomain that you own or control.
- Hosting– The CMS has to reside somewhere. Make sure you have extremely reliable web hosting
- Anaylytics– Content without measurement is just shooting in the dark. Running Google Analytics is just a starting point. Utilizing major platform analytics is vital. You have to have access to big data to see how your content is being distributed and received. Simply Measured, Sprinklr are some that you can use to chart your progress.
10. The Space: The newsroom itself doesn’t have to look much different than the social warroom many agencies already have in place. It’s the focus of listening that becomes different. Instead of just looking at conversations to jump into, the newsroom staff listens to see what relevant conversations that they can”report on”. One big difference is there should obviously be video studio and editing space available. It should also be a space that encourages expression and innovation. It is NOT a meeting space. It’s a relaxed, buzzing, fun environment. It’s where creativity lives.
Mastercard went to an open space collaborative environment similar to a social warroom:
I believe this to be a comprehensive guide to setting up and running a brand newsroom. At minimum it should allow you to get up and running. We can talk later about aggregating services and other resources that you may need to further enhance your newsroom.
Below is a bit of additional information that should help you in crafting the newsroom mentality and to further afford you with the opportunity to turn your social warroom into a full brand or agency newsroom.