Brands

Don’t Call Our Brand Newsroom a ‘Marathon.’ We’re the Phoenix Suns.

You’ve probably heard the cliche that’s always spouted when someone tries to sell the idea of a brand newsroom: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” It’s true that building a quality publication takes time, but I’ve always hated that cliche because:

A) Marathons sound like the least fun thing ever.

And

B) Marathons end.

Neither of those points apply to great publishing. It is fun. Incredibly so. Each day, you feel the rush of highs and lows, hitting up Google Analytics like it owes you money. And if you succeed, the ride never ends. Just ask The New York Times, or American Express, which has been a publishing powerhouse for 46 years.

I’ve now been at the helm of Contently’s “brand newsroom” for a few months, and rather than thinking of our operation as a marathon, I see us more as a basketball team playing a never-ending schedule. The editor-in-chief is the coach, and each day is a game with small victories and losses. You figure out how best to work with your players (writers, designers, video dudes, interns, etc.), and put them in position to succeed. You review your performance and stats each day, and tweak your strategy accordingly. You lobby the GM (CMO) and owner (CEO) for more money to build your roster. And you rack your brain for every possible way to gain an advantage over your competitors.

At The Content Strategist, I think of our crew as the Phoenix Suns—a young, promising upstart team that’s just hitting our stride and seeing our audience double every few months, elated to be playing in front of a semi-packed house. We may not have the insane budget of the Lakers (Red Bull) or Knicks (Unilever), but we have a plan and a front office that believes in us and invests in us. We’re not yet a championship contender, but we have a plan to become one fast.

I think of our crew as The Phoenix Suns—a young, promising upstart team that’s just hitting our stride and seeing our audience double every few months, elated to be playing in front of a semi-packed house.

So, what, you might ask, is the purpose of this post? In the spirit of trying out strategies, let me finish explaining in a listicle:

1) This whole brand publishing thing is still new and weird, and I wanted to share a new way of thinking about it that might resonate with my fellow brand-newsroom chiefs. Metaphors can be a powerful thing.

2) I’m also obsessed with basketball, which I’ve anecdotally found to be a common thread amongst people who run brand newsrooms. (99U’s Sean Blanda, what’s up!)

3) I really, really hate the phrase, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” If the IAB wanted to do some real good, they’d start assessing fines for marketing cliche and buzzword usage instead of releasing a steady stream of non-sensical press releases about “cross-platform ad engagement.”

4) I’m just buttering you up for my upcoming, “How brand newsrooms are like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” piece.

5) Contently’s CEO, Joe Coleman, is a huge Phoenix Suns fan, and I’m sucking up.

What’s the deal with the Content Strategist? At Contently, storytelling is the only marketing we do, and it works wonders. It could for you, too. Learn more.

Image by USA Today
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