This week in brand publishing:
- Brand publications are well-placed to capitalize on growing interest in web3 and crypto.
- Short CMO tenure is a looming threat to brand publishing initiatives.
- Brand publishers have to get strategic foundations right. A Toolkits guide focuses on how they should think about editorial strategy and audiences before they launch.
Can brands win the race to cover crypto?
Up until pretty recently, most people seemed to dismiss crypto as a bunch of raving evangelists HODL-ing and Lambo-ing while nobody listened. Those people are largely in the minority now.
Crypto, and more broadly, web3 applications and overall decentralized internet have become mainstream topics, an accepted iteration of the internet that most are now onboard. One symptom of this: It truly felt like ConstitutionDAO, despite losing its bid to buy an original copy of the Constitution, was the moment crypto leapt into the mainstream, a fast onramp for many who until now had maybe dismissed it as a wonky fad.
It’s an area of burgeoning attention that brands are well-placed to capitalize on. As with the future of work, where brands appear to be poised to potentially win when it comes to providing in-depth expertise that media companies can’t, brands may find that they’re advantaged when it comes to crypto. It’s a complicated and nuanced topic that requires deep expertise and a bench of authority — which brands, particularly those in the investment space, have in spades. Some brands who already have capitalized on this:
- Venture giant Andreessen Horowitz, which has already made public its plans to dominate the world of crypto through investments and support for regulation, is also attempting to own the crypto conversation through content. It has a robust library of content focused on everything from currencies to NFTs, and has brought on top-tier journalists such as former Fortune journalist Robert Hackett, who recently joined to run editorial for a16z Crypto. Creator of Not Boring, Packy McCormick, is also a web3 adviser to a16z.
- Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has gone a different route with the announcement of FactCheck, a blog it launched over the summer that it says will be a full-scale media operation designed to combat what it perceives as misinformation that litters the Internet when it comes to crypto and the company. (The blog has not published anything new since August.)
At the same time, an emerging movement like crypto needs and deserves journalism that is independent and critical — and also understands what the hell is going on. In this scenario, it’ll be particularly important to see journalists focus on providing critical and nuanced coverage that brands simply have no business reason to get into. — Shareen Pathak
How CMO tenure could affect brand publishing ambitions
Last week, I wrote about how we’ve increasingly seen talented journalists leaving the grind of media companies in favor of working for brands investing in publications. Many of these journalists are tempted by bigger salaries, more predictability and more flexibility.
In short, brands are poised to take advantage of a compensation imbalance that has existed at media companies for decades.
One interesting wrinkle to this — which came up in conversation with media writer Jacob Donelly this week — is the short tenure of chief marketing officers. It currently hovers around 40 months, the shortest it has been since 2019. With a changing of guard becoming so common inside brands, strategies can change pretty quickly too, which may mean difficulties when it comes to maintaining any plans around editorial and publishing as well.
Publishing is a long game. It requires patience and consistency in order to show progress. For brands who are still building those muscles, executive changes — and the changes in strategies that come with that — can be a pitfall for editorial ambition. It makes the development of solid and well-thought-out editorial strategies much more critical. — 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.