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Need Content? Drop Your Agency and Create Your Own Brand Newsroom

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You've probably been hearing the buzz around "brand newsrooms." But what are they?

Those "newsrooms" create engaging content, both planned and real time, for sharing across social media channels and blogs.

Some might say that such a newsroom sounds like a social media team, and they're probably right. What differentiates a good brand newsroom from a regular social media team, however, is a strong editorial calendar and an ability to quickly create content to respond to current events and trends.

In short, a brand newsroom is much more a content marketing team.

Moreover, a report from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs indicates that content marketing spend will grow its share in the total marketing budgets for brands from 25% to 29%.

So what I want to argue is that companies should drop their ad agency-run newsrooms and create their own, internal brand newsrooms—i.e., content marketing teams.

Why I dropped my ad agency newsroom and replaced it with an in-house team

When I joined my team, we had a retainer with an ad agency newsroom, and it worked great. Every time we wanted a new piece of content, we'd get on the phone with the ad agency, brief members on what we needed, and about a week later, we would be presented with their creative.

We created hundreds of assets each year, and for our largest campaign last year during Mobile World Congress, we even won an Effie award. We saw great results, and it never crossed my mind that there might be a better way of creating social content. That changed once we were facing budget cuts.

I had to come up with a plan on how to cut costs without compromising the quality of the work we were doing.

After speaking with colleagues and reading online about brand newsrooms, I decided to drop our ad agency and create an in-house brand newsroom.

For a fraction of the cost of the agency newsroom, I recruited an in-house designer, full-time editor/writer, and a social strategist/analyst who—together with our existing social media manager—became our new brand newsroom.

Here are five reasons to consider creating your own brand newsroom.

1. Budget

No matter how you play with your numbers, an in-house team will always be cheaper than an ad agency. For us, the cost of an in-house team was about a fifth of that of an ad agency newsroom. If you have extra dollars to spend, use them to buy more paid media.

2. Speed

Gone are the days when you'd have to wait between a few days to a week for something as basic as social tiles. With an in-house designer, you can implement an agile process and get new social tiles in less than a few hours.

Rather than waiting for a final version from an ad agency that might be completely off point, you can get involved with an in-house team from the very beginning, which can save valuable time for your designer.

Moreover, you can create quick content that responds to hot topics. What's relevant today might not be relevant next week.

3. Quantity

Following on the previous point, quicker production time means you have more time to create more content.

In digital, quantity matters. The whole concept of an always-on newsroom team is irrelevant if you can't share more than one or two new creatives assets per week. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean you should compromise on quality.

4. Quality

If you hire the right people, your brand newsroom can be as good as or better than your ad agency team. You will need to be more involved in the creative process, but a dedicated in-house team aligned to your company's marketing strategy can produce content that strongly supports your brand voice and messaging. It can also offer a cohesive brand narrative.

For example, our ad agency was focused on what we were doing on social but not as much on our thought leadership website, Mobile Business Insights. The agency had a myopic view of our overall strategy and our campaigns. With our in-house team, our team has a better view of the full picture. We also measure our success with KPIs that we know are important for our business, not only our newsroom team.

5. Creative ownership

I saved the best for last. With an ad agency, you're counting on its creativity, and since you're usually under time constraints, you can only tweak their work to get the results you want. With an in-house team, you lead the creative efforts. It can be more time-consuming, but it's also much more engaging and fun.

Only three months have passed since we made the transition, and I couldn't be happier with the results. We saved costs by moving in-house, and we see better results for our content. We tripled our Twitter proactive engagement (comments to our content) and increased our organic monthly blog traffic by 25%. We were able to align on 12 specific KPIs, and we now have weekly calls where we can measure the success of the content we created the previous week and brainstorm on new ideas.

* * *

Getting executive support for creating an in-house brand newsroom is a no-brainer. If you tell your executives you want to cut costs and can improve results, they'll be on board. Once you create your own brand newsroom, you'll never look back, and you'll have a lot of fun in the process.

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Aviv Canaani is a content marketing manager at IBM MobileFirst and serves as editor-in-chief for Mobile Business Insights.

LinkedIn: Aviv Canaani

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  • by Neil Mahoney Mon Aug 1, 2016 via web

    Having an agency or taking your Marketing Communications in house is a debate that's dragged on for years. The reason why agencies add value is that they're somewhat removed from the daily grind. They see things from a different perspective. Some of the most successful promotional programs I ever conducted came from the fresh ideas the agency had.

  • by Andres Riggioni Mon Aug 1, 2016 via web

    Thanks Aviv. Great first-hand insight.

    I'm sure the debate goes both ways, but I agree with you. There is tremendous added value from an in-house team, especially in a growing business. I see the pitfalls for businesses that are already spread too thin and wouldn't be able to focus all the necessary time and energy, but assuming you have the internal resources to start properly, this in-house team can become be a much better catalyst for the brand and business.

    Do you have any experience with dedicated agency teams assigned in-house? I wonder if this may be a middle-ground or it's simply one of those traps that doesn't quite provide the benefits of either end of the spectrum.

  • by Thor Johnson Mon Aug 1, 2016 via web

    Yes, in the pushme-pullu of buy vs. build, Content, especially Social Content is an area I like to own. I love working with outside agencies and professional content developers, too, but for the fast pace of social blocking and tackling, get it done at home, quickly, accurately and economically.

    Thanks. Nice piece.

  • by Aviv Canaani Mon Aug 1, 2016 via web

    Thanks Neil, Andrews and Thor for your great comments.
    I totally agree to your additions.

    1. Andres, Never tried a dedicated agency teams assigned in-house but I think it's still more cost effective to build your own team internally.
    2. There is definitely a place in marketing for ad agencies, but as Thor mentioned, in regards to a newsroom model, agencies can't match a strong in-house team in terms of speed and alignment to the overall marketing strategy.
    3. Neil, I think that both brands and agencies are sometimes at fault in regards to how they collaborate together and share data. If they're not aligned the campaigns won't be effective.

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