This Guide will enable you to:
Establishing and documenting a strategy is a crucial, early step in creating a successful brand publishing operation. But despite that, companies often skip this step in their enthusiasm for getting started, especially as brainstorming and creating content is often more exciting than the initial strategy work might seem.
Brand publishing needs a well-defined strategy precisely because its borders are relatively flexible. Publishing, while certainly a cousin of other marketing vehicles, has to have its own goals and mission so it becomes a foundational part of how companies operate and express brands and identities to the world. Because content is published on and distributed through company channels, properties and platforms, it’s important to ensure the strategy is detailed and overarching to cover all bases.
Companies often mistake mediums and distribution mechanisms (tactics) with a strategy — for example, emails, podcasts, events, panels, interviews or a video series are all examples of tactical marketing but the editorial product, itself, is important to discern. Before companies begin to get into the messy business of developing an editorial operation, hiring people and drafting copy the important job of defining an audience, creating a mission and setting goals must come first.
It tempting to start churning out posts, videos, and podcasts with the intent to “figure it out on the fly,” or to assume the brand needs to publish certain types of content at all. Diving into brand publishing without a clearly defined strategy typically results in confusion, operational inefficiency, sub-standard content, and ultimately, a lackluster brand publishing operation.
A far more effective approach is to establish a clear and overarching strategy from which tactical and executional elements should flow. This initial strategy should influence everything from hiring, staffing, and team structure, to day-to-day operational processes and workflows. Most importantly, the strategy must influence the nature of the content that’s produced and published.
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. Perhaps even more troublingly, companies that don’t spend the time and resources on crafting a strategy will find that their publishing operation simply doesn’t do its job of building authority, driving users and contributing to the bottom line. Therefore, a carefully considered strategy is a cornerstone around which all elements of a brand publishing program should be built.
A successful strategy should:
- Articulate goals and objectives: Any company engaged in brand publishing should be able to articulate what it intends to achieve and why. This includes identifying the outcomes it plans to generate and having a clear sense of how it expects those outcomes to positively impact the broader goals of the organization.
- Define a target audience: Writers and content teams should, at all times, be capable of articulating whom their content is designed for and why. Attempting to create engaging and interesting content without a specific audience in mind is a recipe for failure.
- Establish a clear editorial mission: Every brand publishing operation should carefully establish an editorial mission statement that succinctly describes what it strives to deliver to its audience and why its content matters. What’s the reason for its existence? How does it benefit its audience? What’s its unique value proposition? How is it differentiated from other content? What ideas and ideals does it stand for?
Answering these questions will provide a North Star that can guide more practical decisions, such as what kinds of content to publish, how often, on what platforms and with what personnel.
This guide provides a framework for establishing robust answers to the elements above. It is also intended to help companies create and document a strategy that can be used to install a solid, strategic foundation for any brand publishing initiative.
Articulating goals and objectives
Any company engaged in brand publishing must be able to articulate what it intends to achieve and why. This includes identifying the outcomes it plans to generate and having a clear sense of how it expects those outcomes to positively impact the broader goals of the organization.
Establishing clear goals helps measure the progress and success of a brand publishing operation over time. It also allows the company to gauge the return on its investment in the endeavor.