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Should newspapers help businesses become publishers?

Should newspapers help businesses become publishers?

Steve S on Content Strategy for Small BusinessesMany publishers — at least magazine and news publishers — help businesses become better advertisers. This makes good business sense. Why not give businesses data and tools to improve the content of their ad campaigns? It’ll only lead to more ad sales.

What else do publishers have to offer businesses? An excellent editorial publishing process. Hmm, could publishers literally help businesses publish better content?

I asked Steve Suhrheinrich, business strategist and former VP of Sales for San Diego News Network, for his point of view.

Bowen: Could publishers (specifically online news publishers) help businesses publish better content?

Suhrheinrich: Yes, if the content is published on the news publisher’s site. But, in order to build relationships, loyal fans and new advertising revenue, that means the news publisher must be willing to:

  • Allow advertorial content created by advertisers and reviewed by publishers, and
  • Stretch editorial perspective to include covering local merchants.

Advertorial content has been used in print for a long time, but it’s been slow to move to online publishers, especially news publishers.

B: But news publishers need to have clear boundaries between unbiased news coverage and advertising — how can you successfully have both?

S: Sure, there’s a concern among professional journalists that advertorial content could get mixed up with editorial content and upset the reader. But if the piece is written well, provides valuable information and is properly labeled, I don’t see an issue with it mingling with editorial content. This is how it’s done in a print newspaper or magazine.

B: You mean clearly labeled as content provided by an advertiser.

S: Right.

B: And you’re suggesting it has to have some kind of quality assurance policy behind it, so that it is in fact valuable information for readers and won’t tarnish the publisher’s reputation.

S: Absolutely. The publisher should hold the advertorial content close to the quality standards the publishers creates for itself. It’s very important that the reader gets something out of this content, which means the quality should be near the level the reader is accustomed to seeing from the publisher.

B: What would be the benefits to the publisher to promote this type of advertising … or what I’d call a content marketing program?

S: Revenue. A local news publisher can:

  • Sell online advertorial content space to local merchants,
  • Charge for the writing and diverse distribution of the content,
  • Consider publishing an ongoing articles through a themed blog written by the merchant or the publisher, and
  • Make additional advertising revenue from the page-views.

B: And benefits to the business?

S: The business gets to be in the local online paper. There’s credibility there. Assuming the story page is formatted the same as an editorial story page, except for the advertorial labeling, the business benefits from comments and social media sharing. It also helps with the business’s search ranking.

B: So basically, the news publisher becomes a kind of content marketing company for businesses to drive revenue for both.

S: Exactly. Publishers have an opportunity to take over all aspects of the business’s advertising, which includes print, online display ads, online search ads, social media, lead generation and TV/radio broadcast.

The publisher can do this even if they don’t currently offer those services in house. Through partnerships, the publisher can act like an agency and make advertising buys on behalf of the local business. The business benefits because their campaign can be managed by one entity. The publisher benefits because they’ll get good ad buy deals based on volume, and this is a new revenue stream using resources they already have: writers.

Many thanks to Steve Suhrheinrich for giving his point of view! What do you think of businesses publishing advertorial content on news publishers’ Web sites, given that it’s valuable content?

Author Shelly Bowen

Shelly Bowen, Pybop's chief content strategist, has led teams of writers and creatives to develop websites and interactive content for more than 15 years. Read more about Shelly.

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