Why Smart Brands Are Becoming Publishers

Creating good content is like trying to feed a continually hungry beast who’s never satisfied. It seems like once you think you’re finished, it starts up all over again. You have to keep feeding the beast with new, original, and quality pieces. In spite of this, many brands have decided to take on the content beast, as evidenced by the buzz surrounding “native advertising.”

Why are brands and businesses turning to content creation? Because it gives them the chance to tell their unique story, differentiate themselves, and connect (ideally, and if done correctly). Human beings love stories. It gives structure and coherence to what can seem like random events. Content gives businesses the chance to do just that when they reach out to their customers.

Below, we list some of the brands who are taking storytelling to the next level and positioning themselves as publishers.

And as a quick aside, when I say “content,” I mean content in its broadest term–text, images, gifs, videos, etc–anything that is consumed by a viewer.

EA Sports as a Digital Newsroom

EA Sports is best known for video game titles such as Madden NFL, NASCAR, NBA Live, and FIFA. Their games revolve around real-life sporting events. Now, they’re using that to create original content and conversations. With social media giving sports and gaming fans a platform to talk about their favorite teams, EA Sports is making sure they are taking part in that conversation by creating content that fits the interests of these fans, be it videos or memes.

These content pieces are timely and relevant—-focusing on sporting events that interest their fans and customers. By operating with a newsroom mentality that is conscious of timely events happening in real-time and in real-life, EA Sports can continue to stay near the top of their customers’ minds, even when there isn’t a new game release coming up.

An Extreme Media House: Redbull

Redbull is the energy drink that “gives you wings.” It’s also home to a “multi-platform media company with a focus on sports, culture, and lifestyle,” otherwise known as Red Bull Media House.

Why does an energy drink also have a publishing empire? Because this publishing arm gives them the opportunity to promote the high-octane, high-adrenaline lifestyle that their energy drink represents. By “promote,” I don’t mean advertisements or commercials; Red Bull Media House produces sports magazines, owns a record label, runs a production company—-basically it has a hand in multiple media channels. It also establishes partnerships with sports channels and related programming.

In this way, Red Bull is promoting itself as a lifestyle brand—-not just an energy drink. And creating awesome content in a variety of media helps them to paint that image, reach people with those interests, and get them to keep coming back to consume more of that content.

Fortune Magazine: Helping Brands Become Publishers

Fortune is a leading global business magazine. Rather than going the way of EA Sports and RedBull in using its brand power to become a publisher, Fortune is going the opposite direction in using its publishing prowess to help businesses build their brands.

Fortune recently announced the launch of its new “Trusted Original Content” program. Under this program, original, Fortune-branded content will be created for marketers, businesses, etc. to distribute on their own channels and platforms. Capital One has already signed on as a customer and will get content revolving around strategies for small businesses.

This type of partnership can muddy the traditional Church-State separation between editorial and advertising. To avoid that pitfall, clients in the Trusted Original Content (TOC) program can agree on content topics that will be covered but have no say in the final end result.

For brands without the resources like EA Sports or RedBull to become a content-creating machine, this type of partnership with an established, trusted entity like Fortune can help to build credibility and build up the image they want their business to represent. For a publication like Fortune, this type of program provides an additional revenue stream to keep the rest of their operations afloat in a vastly fragmented, competitive media landscape.

What do you think of this trend happening in the brand-publisher world? Just another buzzword or a disruptive form of marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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