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Are Brands Ready to Be Media Companies? 4 Steps to Yes

Read an interesting article from MediaPost this morning entitled “Are Media Brands Ready to Be Brands?

The question about whether or not media brands are like real brands has been asked every since I’ve been in the media business. The answers varied, but the consensus from publishers was usually that media brands were different in some way, and didn’t have to follow the same rules.

There are a number of areas that most media brands are simply inferior at this point to non-media brands: data capture, lead nurturing, social media, campaign tactics, integrated marketing and more.  Ellen Oppenheim from MediaPost offers a number of helpful solutions for media brands including:

  • Leveraging data outside of content creation
  • Not be so tied to legacy revenue streams and experiment more digitally
  • Reach out to more readers and customers (listen)
  • More content promotion across platforms (market the content, not just through the channel the content is in, i.e., an email newsletter)

All good points, but easier said than done for most media companies.

But let’s put the orange shoe on the other foot. There are a number of things that media brands do that non-media companies should learn from and have a significant advantage.

  • Media brands have set up elaborate content factories to create and curate innovative industry content. Large organizations like P&G, American Express and others have been working to replicate the content creation models of companies like Meredith and trade publishers like Penton Media for years.
  • Media brands still have the primary mindset of thinking like journalists or publishers, not like salespeople. That means the content they create is automatically more credible than most non-media brands.  Why? Most non-media brand content processes are filtered through some marketing or sales person that adds the sales speak and destroys the credibility and engagement factor inherent in the content.
  • Even though many media brands have caused their own death by getting rid of some of the best journalists on the planet, non-media companies have not cornered the market on this yet. Media brands still have the edge when it comes to market knowledge from a storytelling standpoint. Someday, this will not be true and non-media brands will have the edge in most niche markets…but that day has not yet come.

So, if you are a media brand, you need to think more like non-media brand. Listen to customers and start to develop products and services (that are not media) that make sense for your readership.

If you are a non-media brand, you need to

  1. Continue to develop your content factories.
  2. Think consistency of content and stop thinking so much about campaign-oriented content. Campaign mentality is usually the death of great content.
  3. Hire more journalists or partner with outside agencies that can help you tell your story.
  4. And finally, don’t settle for also-ran content. If you are going to develop content for your industry, for your customers to drive your business, it has to be the best.  It must have a point of view. It must stand for something.

Everything else is just clutter.