How to Build a Brand Newsroom like GE

November 16, 2015

By Michael Rovner (@rovnermichael), founding partner of Mr. Finn

As more companies discover the value of participating in a conversation with their consumers, we get a closer look at how they do it at GE, where their brand newsroom means business.

Why should an Inc. 5000 company invest resources to build a brand newsroom? Short answer: because now they can. Companies are learning they're able to seize on what I call the Three E's: Educate, Engage and Entertain customers and prospects as well as the merely curious. No longer are brands subject to sporadic media coverage. Today, brands are building audience, leveraging influencers and driving the conversation.

Several brands are doing this--Dell and IBM have been making great strides, as has GE. They all have in common the understanding that it's the reader's needs, not the company's, that have to be fulfilled. That's where all editorial strategy should begin.

"What we have come to learn is that the privilege of being a trusted brand means that our audience wants to hear what we think about topics that are important to them," says Stephanie Losee, managing editor, Dell Global Marketing.

"We really wanted to get our story out," says Tomas Kellner, managing editor, GE Reports. "Telling your story on your own digital platform seemed the best solution for that."

Kellner's baby is GE Reports, every bit as credible as Wired or Scientific American, but with a GE point of view. Whether its energy, transportation or healthcare, topics are viewed through a GE lens, echoing the company's main value: innovation.

The metrics for success are traffic, time on site and bounce rate. GE also closely tracks every other publication that picks up their content, be it Newsweek, Gizmodo or niche publications catering to specific audiences like manufacturing or software engineers.

To date, G.E.'s greatest success revolved around a story about a farmer using smart LED lights to grow crops. After organically making its way to the top of Reddit, it earned over a one million views.

Another benefit to having your publishing platform is that it allows you to explain complicated topics. For GE, a company with what appears to be various disparate parts, this platform allows them to show how it's all stitched together as one business, or as GE calls it, "the GE Store".

Tomas Kellners' Tips for Building a Brand Newsroom

  1. Embrace storytelling. "You can't publish press releases. Every story needs a protagonist, a challenge and an outcome," says Kellner.
  2. Turn your employees into storytellers. "Employees can come up with story ideas or at least turn them into sources. Treat your company as a beat and report on it. The best stories are about people."
  3. Don't outsource everything. "You will need some outside agency help, to build it, run it, create content, but you need at least one person who understands the company, and that person should be managing it."
Source

"How to Build a Brand Newsroom like GE." Michael Rovner; originally published on Inc.com, 4/9/15.

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