Why Rethinking the Brand Newsroom Is a Smart Move

If you think brand newsrooms are too expensive, you’re thinking about newsrooms all wrong. After Oreo’s on-the-fly Super Bowl ad success, the concept of a “brand newsroom” started generating a lot of buzz in the marketing community. Last week, Digiday pushed back against the Brand Newsroom trend, declaring, “[t]he model’s not right for the majority of brands” because “any publisher will tell you that operating a newsroom is an expensive, arduous task.” It’s ironic  the “brand newsroom” is very much a 2013 idea, but Digiday and other marketing thought leaders seem to be stuck imagining a newsroom from 1993. A “newsroom” no longer has to involve journalists packed together in a room. Just look at the “newsrooms” of recently launched publications like Grantland and The Daily Dot, which consist of a bunch of writers scattered around the country, connected via email and file-sharing services. And while Grantland and The Daily Dot need full-time staffers to report and capitalize on breaking sports and tech stories, respectively, brand publishers do not need full-time staffers responding to breaking news on most days. Digiday is correct that the full-time staffing of a brand newsroom usually doesn’t make financial sense. But that doesn’t mean that a brand can’t have a newsroom on-call for when opportunities do arise.

The “brand newsroom” is very much a 2013 idea, but Digiday and other marketing thought leaders seem to be stuck imagining a newsroom from 1993.

The answer for brands is a digital newsroom staffed by a robust team of trusted freelancers that brand marketers can call on when a pressing brand publishing opportunity arises. I’ve managed a number of brand content teams staffed by freelancers, and if you’ve put together a good team, it’s fairly easy to get quality content created on the fly. Financially, it’s much smarter to pay a freelance journalist per project than to hire her full-time and pay her to sit around and wait. Ultimately, the real challenge arises not from creating branded content quickly, but getting that branded content approved. Oreo was able to publish an on-the-fly Super Bowl ad because Oreo representatives with approval power were present in the command center  from agency to brand to legal. Instead of content approval taking a few months, it took a few minutes. If brands want to market at newsroom speed, the approval process is the biggest hurdle they have to overcome. If you’re a brand looking to build a smarter newsroom, Contently can help in big ways. The Contently editorial management system allows content to swiftly flow through a custom approval process that meets your brand’s needs. And Contently’s marketplace of thousands of established journalists makes finding talented freelancers simple and easy. I work for Contently and Contently publishes this blog, so that last paragraph is blatantly self-promotional, but it’s also true. If you want to build a brand newsroom, don’t be scared off by misconceptions of what a newsroom looks like. An affordable, fast-moving and effective brand newsroom is within your reach. Now is the time to build it. Image courtesy of

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