A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Guide to Brand Newsrooms

When explaining how a brand newsroom works to your team of happy-go-getter Millennials, with their short attention spans and nostalgia for the early 90s, it may help to draw parallels to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This is a metaphor and a guide. Cowabunga.

The Editor-in-Chief: Leonardo

via Adventures in Poor Taste

Leonardo leads the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on a daily basis and puts his team in position to succeed during their adventures. He also orders a lot of pizza and reigns in some of their more egregious ideas. These are all crucial tasks for a brand newsroom EIC.

Of course, Leo sometimes has some crazy ideas himself, like that time he wanted to take on 20,000 Foot Clan ninjas at once. Which is why it’s crucial to have:

The Data Scientist: Donatello

via Turtlepedia

Donatello is the methodical, wise, and analytical Ninja Turtle, an inventor who uses his turtle brain to literally lead his brothers to new dimensions.

He doesn’t pop out of the sewer swinging a sword or flailing his numchucks. Instead, he wields a bo staff, a weapon that’s completely useless if you don’t know how to use it, but deadly effective if you do. The data scientist’s bo staff consists of powerful content analytics platforms like Google Analytics and ChartBeat.

Of course, Leo and Donatello can still sometimes lead their team off the reservation, which is why you need…

The CMO: Master Splinter


Splinter is the wise mutant rat ninja who raises the Ninja Turtles, teaches them how to be ninjas, and keeps them in check. A brand newsroom needs a CMO to craft the broader strategy and make sure the team doesn’t get in too much trouble. He doesn’t get his hands dirty often, but when necessary, he pops out of the shadows to save the day. Especially when this guy is involved…

Legal and Compliance: Shredder

via Wikipedia

As the primary villain, Shredder is a necessary evil for the Ninja Turtles. Otherwise, they’d just be hanging out in the sewer, eating pizza, and pining after April O’Neil all day. Likewise, Legal and Compliance is the necessary evil of brand newsrooms. They can ruin all the fun, but the larger operation doesn’t work without them.

A good CMO will go toe-to-toe with legal when needed, picking the right fights and advising the Ninja Turtles when to back off.

The Go-To Reporter: April O’Neil

via Listall

Shredder often targets April O’Neil, the reporter who runs around helping the Ninja Turtles instead of, you know, actually doing her job. April is an absolutely crucial and often underrated member of the team, getting the Ninja Turtles key information that facilitates their success. They’re all in love with her, and rightfully so.

The Crazy Writer/Editor: Raphael

via Hardcore Gaming

I’d argue that every brand newsroom needs a Raphael: An aggressive bad boy (or girl!) who can do a little bit of everything. Raphael challenges his brothers to be bold and pushes them to their limits. Fellow TMNT scholars will note that some of the best plans originate from the mind of Raphael; he doesn’t hold back, because he knows that’s not his job. Splinter and the other Turtles will check him if necessary.

The Untrustworthy (and Possibly Stoned) Social Media Manager: Michaelangelo

via Turtlepedia

Michaelangelo is the youngest and least mature of the Ninja Turtles. He’s the 22-year-old recent college graduate probably manning your brand newsroom’s social media account. His happy-go-lucky, naïve temperament is both his biggest strength and weakness.  You’ll think about firing him at least once a week, but he’s just so damn adorable and fun, you’ll never bring yourself to do it.

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