A growing number of brands are touting editorially independent publications as a key part of their marketing strategies. For these companies, building journalistically driven publications is the best way to draw audiences – by serving them truly valuable content that entertains or educates them.
In this set is Interpublic-owned global design firm Huge, which in December launched a new magazine called Huge Moves — a business publication that focuses on the narratives that will transform creative businesses. On this week’s episode of the Brand Publishing Show, we spoke with Huge editor-in-chief Jennifer Leigh Parker, a Bloomberg and Forbes veteran who is attempting to build an independent newsroom inside the agency.
Jennifer and I discussed what it means to be editorially independent in the context of brand publishing, why brand publishing isn’t necessarily a stable alternative to traditional journalism, and how to set up teams for success. Thanks to AudiencePlus.com for their support for this podcast.
Building an editorially “independent” publication
For brand publishers, a balancing act must take place to ensure in-house expertise is being brought in at appropriate times, said Parker.
“I’m definitely a fish out of water. I speak a different language than agency speak. I don’t speak Huge. I don’t speak the language. It is a dialogue. Several of our contributors are Huge people. And they have expertise. They’re not journalists, they’re not going out as a beat reporter covering a certain story like that, but they are involved in our editorial. Why would I, as an editor totally ignore their expertise and the value that they bring to the firm? I’m listening to what they think is important, at the same time as they are listening to my expertise, and learning about how I approach covering any particular story. We’re making those editorial decisions together. I have to make sure that we’ve committed to high editorial standards and an editorial process. I’m the one that makes sure that we’re working with the fact checker and the copy editors there. Those processes weren’t there before I came in. I’m running it like a newsroom. But what’s important to the designers and the creatives at the firm very much influences what we choose to cover.”
Distancing from content marketing
A growing number of brand publishers are distancing their work from content marketing. But Parker says the key is to do both.
“The question isn’t whether should you do brand publishing or content marketing. You should do both. And it’s a very live and active conversation that’s evolving. You shouldn’t mix them. They are apples and oranges and you should not blend the two because then you compromise the credibility of your brand publishing. But you must figure out how to sell your product. Otherwise, the whole thing falls.”
On choosing to do a print editorial product
Magazines seem to be gaining in popularity among some brand publishers. Magazine-style approaches are cropping up more often, complete with in-depth cover stories, rich photography, and editorial bundles that ladder up into an overall theme.
“We might be wrong, which is kind of depressing. But we wanted to do really big stories about big, complex topics. And we wanted those stories to be at least 2000 words each, we wanted to actually deal with them. It’s the theory of the medium is the message. And instead of being clickbait, or just producing snackable content, which we’re all honestly so tired of, we wanted to create a space where people had the time [read it] It’s this beautiful publication that we’re proud to present to our clients, and we’ve given them to prospects and existing clients. We’re really proud of it. But we’re also proud of the act of reading it, it’s meant for a long-haul flight, because we want to be part of the solution to or part we want to reject what’s happening to us, which is kind of the dumbing down of our content based on internet traffic.”