One of the most interesting trends in media recently has been the blurring of the lines between traditional journalism, brand publishing, and everything in between. The pressures of the media business on the journalism side mean that revenue diversification is key, and on the brand side an increasing number of editorial initiatives are pushing beyond marketing vehicles to become legitimate revenue-driving businesses (see Hubspot’s “Trends” product, born out of its acquisition of The Hustle publication.)
It was interesting to see news last week that watch publication Hodinkee is planning to launch a physical store that will sell watches and accessories and, of course, distribute its magazine, . Hodinkee started out as a publisher and now has a thriving non-publishing business, thanks to its purchase of watch marketplace Crown & Caliber. Alongside this, Axios reports that publishers are increasingly leaning into everything from books to NFTs to commerce sites to Hollywood deals in an effort to go beyond ads and subs as main revenue sources.
One of the key differences between brand publishing and content marketing, as I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, is that content marketing sells the company’s product, while in brand publishing, the content itself is the product. Amanda Natividad, vp marketing at Sparktoro and a smart Twitter follow on all things content, tweeted what I saw as a build on that thought in response to someone who asked why brands should create content if it doesnt have any direct link to helping that brand’s business or bottom line – and particularly if the brand’s product itself is knowledge.
Amanda wrote: ”…the value you’re giving away is the knowledge, not the product. And if your product is knowledge, you give away pieces of that knowledge for free, in order to sell that full scope – software, goods, services, consulting, etc.” She likened it to a pizza restaurant that may give away pizza-baking tips for free, which will help it build affinity and proven credibility over time, and gain an audience of home cooks that will eventually become potential customers.
It’s a good analogy, and exactly we’ve heard from execs we speak with who are trying to build credible publishing departments within their companies as a way to move beyond short term campaign-style marketing to more long-term audience building that can pay dividends down the line. Ricardo Bilton, a former colleague and now an editorial strategist at Edelman, echoed this in response to my piece. Ricardo said: “The brand publishing vs. content marketing divide in many ways mirrors the larger one between branding and marketing: branding articulates that higher-purpose “why” whereas marketing tends to focus on the short-term, tactical “what.””
Audience still matters though, and one shortcut to audience-building for brands could be hiring creators to staff their publishing endeavors. For brand publishers, hiring individuals who have chosen to strike out on their own and build an audience can be a shortcut of sorts to building audiences and gaining distribution quickly. Not many people are doing this yet, but a small number of brands are beginning to try to figure out how to leverage the creator economy to their benefit. Read more about this in last week’s insight.
Also worth checking out:
The Information profiled Erika Nardini, CEO at Barstool Sports who, following Penn Entertainment’s $550 million acquisition of the media company, now will report into Jay Snowden, CEO at Penn. Of interest: Snowden also sees Nardini “taking on a greater role in the organization as a whole, as more and more states legalize online gambling and the pool of potential bettors grows,” giving some indication into how Penn hopes to leverage Barstool content into being a key marketing driver for the company.
Lastly, if you’re looking for new opportunities, our Who’s Hiring resource that curates the most notable and newsworthy jobs in brand publishing on a monthly basis. Featured roles this month included content jobs at companies like the WNBA, U.S. Soccer, and Meta. Check them out – and if you have a job that you’d like featured, just reply to this email with details for consideration.