Four Roles In Making Your Brand Its Own Media

“Brands are media” is a nebulous term. It’s like saying, “We should find synergies.” Everybody in the room nods their heads and gives the thumbs up — and then have no idea what to do next.

Fortunately, we have a very good model that has worked for centuries in traditional media.

Traditional media model

There are essentially four main roles in any media:

Publisher/General Manager: Publishers are ultimately responsible for an outlet’s success. They have one foot in the newsroom and one foot in advertising sales. They’re watching both the ratings and the bottom line. They make staffing and resource decisions. And, they work closely with editors to guide the strategic direction of their publication or broadcast outlet. One thing publishers rarely do is write for their outlet.

Editors/Producers: They are the keepers of the news. They decide which stories are priorities, make assignments to reporters, and provide guidance to reporters in the field. Ultimately, accuracy of the news falls on their shoulders. Editors are always former reporters and, from time to time, will report on a story or call sources for information if the story warrants it.

Columnists: Columnists comment and opine on what’s happening in the world. Their job is to add perspective to news events and developments. Columnists are almost always former reporters.

Reporters: Reporters are the hunter/gatherers of the news. They come in two forms:beat and general assigment. Beat reporters cover a specific topic (or topics) every day, such as banking or health care or certain regions. General assigment reporters go wherever the action is; their stories depend on what’s hot that day. Both types of reporters cultivate their sources and do tons of research to support the stories they are writing. What they don’t do is opine on the events. Their job is to cover the story, not interpret it.

(FYI — I have purposefully omitted advertising sales since 99.9 percent of companies won’t sell content or advertising.)

This approach has worked for centuries and remains the standard today. It’s an efficient and practical way to ensure that a media outlet functions well.

Adopting the media model in your company

Businesses don’t need to reinvent the wheel to make their brand into media. They just have to figure out a way to fill the four roles.

The most important is the role of the publisher. This role determines the content strategy, chooses the right media (social, e-mail, video, etc.), advocates for resources to make the content strategy work, and measures the results. The publisher is also responsible for working with the editors on their plans.

The editor is responsible for creating the calendar and choosing the exact topics to be covered. The editor then makes assignments where necessary, monitors the content gathering and production, and ensures the accuracy of any content.

The columnists get to produce the thought leadership content that shows off the company’s expertise and experience. This could include articles, whitepapers, podcasts, videos, etc.

The reporters are responsible for gathering and aggregating information that the company’s target audiences would find useful. Most of their work will be linking to or tweeting interesting articles from business publications, trade associations, expert bloggers, etc. I envision reporters having assignments to check out specific websites or blogs every day for the most interesting content.

In the next four Leveraging Employee Brands blog posts, I will discuss the specifics of each role and how companies can adopt this model.

Why is this important

Imagine the benefit of people checking in every day to get important industry news and information from you. That’s the potential for brands that become media.

Brian Solis at PR 2.0 has an excellent article about the idea of brands as media. Check it out.

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