French Novelist, Gustave Flaubert was known for his scrupulous devotion to style and aesthetics. He practiced the principle of finding “le mot juste” (“the right word”). Gustave considered this as the essential means to achieve quality in literary art. He was never satisfied with what he had composed and would sometimes spend weeks on completion of a single page. In his work, Gustave often spoke about how perception shapes the world. Today a brand newsroom relies upon on Gustave’s “le mot juste” principle to tell stories that deliver value and shape perceptions.

“There is no truth. There is only perception”.

– Gustave Flaubert, French Novelist

As marketers, we are in the business of managing the desired perception. Today a brand’s press release sits on the journalist’s to-do-list along with several other deliverables. As writers view content from their distorted lenses, they usually differ from the original narrative, or the content often turns out to be factually incorrect. The idea of using “le mot juste” doesn’t even cross their minds.

For a brand, it’s imperative that the article published stays true to its context and doesn’t deviate from its original narrative. Also, the advent of social media has killed the press release. People prefer reading a story over a press release.

Flipkart setup Flipkart Stories last year to tell its stories with a journalistic rigor. Flipkart’s brand newsroom has delivered an interesting mix of stories week after week. The latest story on the platform takes us inside one of Flipkart’s warehouses to show how the brand is preparing to deliver orders after Big Billion Day (Flipkart’s annual sale). Flipkart’s brand newsroom strategy has been instrumental in influencing the narrative and also in covering stories which would have otherwise never seen the light of the day. Flipkart Stories is today the centerpiece of Flipkart’s Content Strategy.

Samsung Newsroom

Samsung with its ‘Newsroom Bharat‘ platform is reaching vernacular journalists in tier II and tier III cities which would otherwise struggle for a press release or story from the brand. Also, from a brands standpoint using a stringer to place content in a vernacular publication has become an expensive affair.

Flipkart and Samsung are not the only brands embracing the brand newsroom strategy. Globally brands like GE, Intel, SAP, Dell, and Coca-Cola to name a few have created brand newsrooms to craft and deliver stories.

Brand Newsroom

Brand newsroom model exists as it helps in improving the perceived brand benefits. According to a survey by CEB increase in perceived brand benefit improves both business & personal value. Both brand journalism and content marketing are about building trust & authenticity. Brand journalism focuses on creating brand awareness while content marketing works to drive demand generation. Brand Newsroom model works as it offers the following benefits:

Give Them A Good Story

Tomas Kellner former long-time Forbes reporter joined GE to manage GE reports. GE Reports today has over 17,000 subscribers and publishes stories ranging from intelligent machines to the future of work. Tomas suggests that no one story exists on its own when viewers find your stories interesting they weave more stories around it.

As a storyteller, it is your task to build and nourish this ecosystem. Tomas suggests that you don’t create a great story until you place a conflict or a challenge.

If you don’t have a conflict or a challenge, you don’t have a story.

Tomas Kellner, Managing Editor, GE Reports

Shift the focus to real heroes

Press releases appear monotonous and worthless to viewers as they are drafted keeping the brand in mind. Dell’s Brand Newsroom model suggests that to be valued by the reader the brand has to ‘lead with needs, follow with values.’

A brand has to change the narrative to showcase value. Turn the customer into the hero of the story by championing them to leverage your product/service to meet their needs and advocating their customers, in turn. Always remember that your brand is the champion and not the savior for the customer.

Narrative Brand Newsroom
Modified Diagram from Dell’s Newsroom Model by Nicole Smith
Be Agile. Leverage Micro-Moments

Brand newsroom model works because of a brands ability to craft responsive content strategies based on data insights and actions based on those insights. Being proactive with your newsroom strategy can come in handy when it comes to crisis management. Zomato uses its blog to address issues raised by users and restaurants. Last year Zomato published an article titled ‘Trust, but verify‘ to address a complaint raised by a long-term Zomato user on Facebook.

Leverage the best practices from traditional media

Brand newsroom strategy has to embrace best practices from traditional media which could be in the form of structure, ethics, form factor and audience centricity. Augment the best practices with real-time monitoring to spot content gaps, fact checking to improve the accuracy of content shared and set up governance council to bring in greater transparency.

Newsrooms are marathons, not sprints. It takes months and years before a publisher starts getting noticed. Building a newsroom is in many ways like bringing in a cultural change within an organization.