Brand publishing isn’t the new kid on the block anymore. The proof points are in, and the logic is undeniable.

Elsewhere, we discuss five things to keep in mind when putting together your brand publishing strategy. But what goes into your plan? What roles and capabilities do you need?

I’m glad you asked. Because these building blocks can make or break your brand publishing effort.

1. Audience Mapping

PR and marketing professionals have a horrible tendency to make assumptions about target audiences. While building target personas is a logical first step, it’s essential to verify inclinations with proper research.

These days, brands can sharpen their understanding of the audience by taking advantage of real-time insights mined across social channels, as well as gathering insights internally (sales, customer service, marketing, comms, etc.) and externally (customer surveys, focus groups, etc.). Do this groundwork in the beginning, and keep the insights handy as you go, to make sure that your content always maps back to the right people and purpose.

2. Editorial Team

What are the staff and resourcing implications of launching a brand publishing platform? The most effective brand newsrooms and positioning sites are creating high-output models, which are the only way to make a dent in the cluttered world of content. This model depends on a well-built staff:

  • Editor-in-Chief
  • Managing Editor
  • Sr. Copy Editor
  • Contributing Writers
  • Paid Syndication Coordinator
  • Community Manager
  • Graphic Designer / Photographers
  • Video Producer / Editor

Many big brands still have very segmented internal departments. As a result, they’ve struggled to adapt quickly to the changing times in terms of roles and personnel realignment or new hires to launch and sustain brand publishing operations from within. Having the right skills and deep experience is absolutely necessary to ensure success.

2. Platform Design

“Build it and they will come” is a bad, bad strategy for brand publishing. It’s critical to start with your audience mapping and defined approach to editorial and ongoing operations. Only then should you bring the platform design and experience into the picture.

Furthermore, start with your project manager, UX designer and developer in the room from the beginning, with your proper working group leads across marketing, PR, sales, e-commerce, IT, legal, etc. This will not be easy, but in the end, you’ll save time clearing up security, tech/functionality issues and aligning all key leads with the integrated goals, purpose and intent of your brand publishing model.

3. Production Coordination

Advanced brand publishers often take an approach of looking at content streams across proactive, reactive and evergreen content. This requires a high degree of coordination with your writers, photographers, graphic designers and video production team to ensure that high quality visual and multimedia assets are developed and approved in a timely manner. If you don’t have detailed coordination and process in place with the folks that need to churn out great creative content, you’re dead in the water for driving any type of proactive editorial calendar.

4. Paid Syndication

Your content will struggle immensely without the support of paid syndication. From content discovery outlets (Outbrain/Taboola, ShareThrough, etc.) to social advertising (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) to SEM to content partnerships with media outlets, you have so many ways to position your content in front of your target audience.

The biggest struggle on this front for brands today? Fighting for those precious ad dollars and reapplying them away from traditional brand awareness advertising.

The benefit of paid content advertising is that, in addition to feeding people into the sales funnel, it provides real-time insights. Print and TV don’t give you the user behavior info you get with paid online. It should be an easy sell.

5. Analytics Tracking

Building off that last one, analytics are the critical feedback hinge in a brand publishing model. Analytics fuel insights and enable brands to optimize and adjust an editorial approach over time. More content = more data = more insights to improve delivery of high value content that resonates with your audience’s values and interests.

The big takeaway? Brands often underestimate the proper time and resources required to efficiently launch a brand publishing effort. Take note of the areas above, and plan properly from the beginning.

Learn more about how Weber Shandwick helps clients navigate the brand publishing space through our Mediaco offering.

photo credit: NCinDC via photopin cc

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