Sure, they say content is king. But you what’s really king? Conversions. Chances are, if you’re tasked with starting a brand-backed publication, some executive somewhere wants to know where this pays out. And there’s the rub.
Editors—bless their pure hearts—want to create quality content that serves the audience first. They look at publishing KPIs like page views, time on page, bounce rate and, if you have a good analytics partner, scroll rate and scroll speed. But the executive team wants to know that every dollar sees a return.
Brand publications (or their editors) have failed simply because the editor didn’t understand that at the end of the day, their efforts would be tracked back to sales. Or, conversely, the executives didn’t understand how long it takes to build credibility with an audience before trying to sell them stuff (if at all.)
So, get everybody on the same page from the get-go. Bring your editorial, sales, and marketing teams together to establish KPIs. Divvy up which teams will be responsible for what KPIs and establish how they’ll work together. Then, make sure the executive team signs on to your joint roadmap and review your progress regularly with the people signing the checks.
After all, when the brass isn’t happy, nobody’s happy.
Marketers create personas all the time. Editors don’t. But when you’re running a company publication, it’s part of a bigger funnel. (See section 1.) That means your readers should fall within whatever demographic set your employer is courting.
To do that, create reader personas, then brainstorm stories that might appeal to them. When news breaks, ask yourself what it means to those segments, then write a take that matters to them. Your publishing metrics will tell you whether you’re hitting the mark. And your marketing metrics will pay out down the road.
Too often, companies put the marketing team in charge of a blog and call it content. But that blog falls to the bottom of their to-do list, and their efforts are rushed, shallow, and sporadic. That’s why marketing teams hire editors—creating content isn’t a side job.
On the other hand, editors who make the jump from a publishing company often have grand ambitions. To strike the right balance between quality and regularity, you must first take stock of your resources. You may want to publish daily, but do you have the staff to do it? Or would you rather focus on two well-written features every month? Is your ambition to create a video series? Or host a podcast? Whatever you decide, create a schedule and stick with it.
“Creating content is nobody’s side hustle. When it falls to the bottom of someone’s to-do list, their efforts are rushed, shallow and sporadic.”
Publications run smoothly and quickly because newsrooms are well-oiled machines with myriad staffers each playing their role: reporter, copy editor, managing editor, editor-in-chief. Chances are, your organization doesn’t have the budget to hire a full staff from the get-go. But you’ll still need to make some key hires.
Most likely, you’ll be filling the role of the assigning and managing editor, as well as a regular contributor. Your first order of business will be to assemble a bench of competent freelance writers.
While you’re elbows deep in managing budgets and deadlines, hire an outside partner to make sure you’re not overlooking anything vital. Editorial consultants, for example, can help craft a broader editorial vision, point out additional editorial opportunities, and guide your editor in developing a full-scale publication. Meanwhile, full-scale agencies can help you execute larger projects. Projects that will ultimately sit in your portfolio, come review time.
Finally, make sure your stakeholders contribute at the right time. Too often, well-meaning editors wait until they have something polished and ready to read. But if there’s a red flag to be thrown, it’s best to know before you assign out the story. Furnishing a story budget before the final draft can be a good way to know from the outset if you’re going to run up against any guardrails.