6 Uses for Sector-Based Journalism Within Your Brand

Your brand has the ability to answer an audiences questions

The Internet’s unprecedented emergence as a communications tool has brought with it many opportunities — and challenges — for large consumer products companies. App based engagement, geolocation, bots and Digital conversations number in the millions, daily. The exponential rise of these interactions between the brand and its consumer, news media, regulators, consumer protection organizations and brand extension partners creates a complex multi-dimensional and often dialog that’s hard to distill with even the most advanced social media monitoring tools.

One solution to this challenge is for a company to “own” a sector specific to its brand category. In other words, it needs to put in place a Digital Media Center (DMC).

Rooted in a journalism-based content strategy, the DMC’s function is to deliver high-quality curated information, data and content rapidly and efficiently to a broad range of stakeholders, thus creating a constant stream of sector-specific information flow. This isn’t a mouthpiece for the brand; instead, it’s a channel of information for which the brand is an expert (e.g., Starbucks and sustainable growing, General Mills and nutrition, Pfizer and pharma). The key to success for a brand-specific DMC channel is that it encompasses all industry news instead of just a silo of company-specific news.

The benefits of launching a DMC apply to two spheres — the external one and the internal one. Here are six different uses, or channels, for a sector-based content strategy:

1. “Must Know” Internal News Feed. A behind-the-firewall DMC channel accessible only to brand executives provides company leadership with a one-stop destination for mission critical information. To develop content for the channel, the DMC distills select keywords, sentiment and mentions about the brand from online monitoring tools and makes them available in an easy-to-use format. The data stream has to be translated into real world, usable content. Updated daily, the DMC leads with compelling content and news that all managers at a pre-determined level must know about the company and its sector as they make decisions that influence the direction of efforts.

2. Corporate Knowledge Center. A DMC can serve as an internal digital “broadcast” center for peer-to-peer use within the global brand community. In addition to sharing information gleaned from online monitoring tools, the DMC platform is perfect for distributing other internal digital assets (e.g., conference presentations, CEO employee messages) to an internal audience that may be far-flung across multiple time zones.

3. Journalism Workplace. A DMC can give the journalism community a simple pathway to high-quality, useful material. With a secure repository of controlled video and news worthy content, the brand can offer journalists wishing to acquire this content the opportunity to download high-quality sector-based offerings that range from executive sound bites regarding current events to packaged stock footage of relevant products and production processes to news clips, press releases, graphics and story collateral. If desired, the brand can require journalists to register for access, which gives a brand the opportunity pre-publication to learn about opportunities to engage with interested parties.

4. Crisis Communications. Another DMC element should be a specific channel to be used in tandem with a brand’s existing crisis management plans. This would be a one-stop location for interested parties and stakeholders to find and access high-quality video and related assets that supports the strategy deployed by executives when a crisis or special situation arises.

5. Internet Community Management. A DMC is perfectly positioned to share and create content designed to mature and enhance conversations beneficial to the brand. Providing key bloggers and Internet influentials a rich media digital asset repository created by a brand can fill their need for content and build powerful relationships.

6. Video Archive. The DMC creates a digital asset repository for use with other brand content management and digital asset management initiatives. All content created in the DMC can be fully indexed, conform to existing overarching brand taxonomies and deepen the rich media available for re-purposing within the company, making it an authenticated video source and workspace for internal Web producers using whatever access controls a brand decides.

The idea of a DMC is starting to catch on, with more organizations creating their own brand media destination to serve up easy-to-access, “snackable” content, corporate positioning and high-quality video for its stakeholders.

For example, Coca Cola keeps a close eye on industry, opportunity and culture via it’s newsroom site, while Autoline has made its “any format, any time” daily news broadcasts an indispensible part of the automobile value chain’s executive brief. And as one of the world’s top management consulting firms like Accenture, Merkle and KPMG have teams that create daily abstracts with information pulled from global news organizations for each of its business sectors. The firm’s senior consultants review this information before beginning their workday.

Developing a DMC for your brand is now critical in a world where digital content, certainly video, have become an increasingly popular part of users’ online experiences. We now live in a world where almost two-thirds of U.S. adults now watch videos online, according to a study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Now is the time for more brands to take on a brand media mindset and put digital video and storytelling to work to keep executives, journalists, consumers and the company proactively engaged in a connected, challenging digital world.

The Sector-Based Journalism Starter Kit:

· Develop your strategy. Don’t assume that creating content makes you the default resource either internally or externally. You must utilize data to inform and define your voice, your stance and your audience. Then you can create content that is actionable, valuable and focused.

· Commit at the highest level for the long term. If your organization isn’t behind the effort 100%, it will fail. This is a new business endeavor and you are turning the key on a new practice that will be in play for the long term. It needs a leader and a team with dedicated bandwidth.

· Engage your troops. Some of your best advocates and supporters are your peers, so you’ll need to get buy-in for something from those who are most influential. Getting buy-in from internal colleagues for something this different than the usual communication tactics can be one of the toughest parts of the mission.

· Create infrastructure. You are building a Web-based property that involves a production department, technology and is a 24/7 media machine, so carefully think through all the elements needed to make this work. You’ll need taxonomy, data asset management strategies, content management, technical capabilities and headcount to operate a DMC.

· Create an editorial calendar. Just like a traditional news business, you must employ the tried-and-true process of the morning editorial meeting. Don’t let technology alone rule the day, as humans with eyes and ears are your best assets. Decide what you want to say, when you want to say it and then don’t forget to listen.

Core Elements of a Good DMC:

· Content should be as accessible via a smartphone/mobile as it is on a computer monitor, making it easy to consume for busy executives and those who prefer to conduct business via hand-held devices.

· DMC technology should allow videos to be posted elsewhere, linked through email notifications and embedded in other sites, all under a brand’s direct control.

· DMC materials should be search engine optimized.

· DMC videos must be visible with correct aspect ratios and technical specifiactions on all common digital devices.

· DMC archival should include a robust data asset management plan. The shear amount of data produced should provide value to the brand and brand partners now and in the future.

· Established channels and types of content. This is strategic as much as tactical

· Established technology for monitoring, reporting and gathering. Build it or buy it, don’t just google it.

Is your brand running a newsroom? If so, I would love to hear about it. I’m @broadbandito just about everywhere. Thanks for reading.