This week in brand publishing:
- Trapital’s Dan Runcie wrote an excellent essay on the creator economy for Future — A16Z’s publication.
- Robinhood gave some interesting hints into how it perceives the future of its in-house publication, Snacks.
- How to develop and document a brand publishing strategy that articulates goals and objectives, defines a target audience and establishes a clear editorial mission.
Brand publishing and contributed pieces
Publishers have been used as distribution channels by companies and their staffers for years. In exchange for contributed articles and content, publishers would offer distribution and the promise of exposure and audience awareness.
But a good example of this system is now found in an unlikely place — brand publishing.
Andreessen Horowitz’s publication, Future, has been running a series on the creator economy. What caught our eye recently was an excellent and thought provoking essay on the overlooked levels of the creator economy — how those building tools for creators need to recognize that there are nuanced differences between different types of creators. The writer of the article — a creator himself, was the founder of hip-hop publication Trapital, Dan Runcie.
But as brands build their own publications and audiences, they too have something to offer creators and other contributors. Future has been running essays by plenty of authors and experts; but it’s particularly interesting to see a creator use the company’s reach (which is likely large and relevant) to expand their own audience..
Meanwhile, the independent newsletter rocketship is coming back to earth. As Jack noted last week, creators are being acqui-hired by media companies, and I’m particularly interested to see if indie writers find homes inside brand publishing the way they are at media companies. As brand publishers step up their game and use their considerable resources to hire talent, creators may find that they are able to produce their best work inside those organizations, rather than at media companies.
One of the most prominent brand publications out there is Robinhood Snacks, a “digestible” finance website and podcast that the company grew after acquiring MarketSnacks in 2019.
In its quarterly earnings report this week, the financial giant gave a glimpse of how it sees Snacks as part of its overall product portfolio. Key highlights:
- The company is now stepping up educational content aimed turning new investors into long-term investors, following last quarter’s launch of educational modules that were aimed at teaching customers how investing works.
- As part of an overall effort that focuses content on education, the company also announced it will begin to integrate content from Snacks into the app itself. Snacks had 23 million unique readers in the third-quarter.
- Robinhood is also now working with Snapchat to distribute Snacks content on the platform, creating a finance education channel on Snap.
Robinhood’s editorial content has long focused on a key mission: Building financial literacy. It’s a simple and straightforward mission that has driven the growth of its content engine, and a particularly good example of how brand publishing is more than simply making content with a company logo slapped on it. What Robinhood has done is bring publishing firmly into its overall product and not just left it as a marketing afterthought.
It may feel like an unimportant distinction, but too often for brands, publishing ends up feeling like just another marketing campaign. But Snacks is a good example of how product and content can work together to grow the bottom line. — SP
Toolkits Guide: Brand publishing strategies
For brand publishers, mapping out a clear strategy that articulates goals and objectives, defines target audiences and includes a clear editorial mission is perhaps the most important part.
Given that companies may need to hire specialists who understand certain types of content production, failure to map out a strategy can lead to expensive mistakes, and even more expensive corrections, in terms of time, equipment and personnel. Companies that don’t spend the time and effort crafting a strategy will find that their publishing operation simply doesn’t do its job of building authority, building an audience and helping grow revenue. A new Toolkits guide lays out what you need to know about crafting a strategy.