The ROI of Brand JournalismBy Gini Dietrich

We are at the end of our series on brand journalism.

If you’ve missed any part of it, you can find the trend, breathing new life into old content, user-generated contentsponsored content, and long-form content by clicking on any of those links.

Thanks for sticking through it with me. It’s been really helpful for me to think through the types of changes we want to do to Spin Sucks, but also the new capabilities we can offer to clients.

I hope it’s done the same for you.

Today I want to talk about the ROI of brand journalism (that’s return-on-investment, for those of you who don’t want to look it up).

A Quick Story

I’m full of stories this week, aren’t I? It must be Clay Morgan rubbing off on me. He has stories for every situation in life.

A couple of weeks ago, he and I were in a new business meeting.

We were talking to the prospect about why we do integrated communications.

We explained that we don’t do just media relations anymore because more and more journalists are looking for social proof when working with the leaders of organizations.

They want to know you can put a sentence together that isn’t self-serving, which can be demonstrated through a blog.

They want to know you have the social power to help extend the stories they may write that mention you, which can be demonstrated through an engaged Facebook fan page or Twitter stream.

Which is why it’s so important to – at the very least – integrate earned media with owned and shared media.

Then I made the wise crack that I can’t very well co-author Marketing in the Round, a book about integrating your marketing and communications, and not require it of my business and of our client’s organizations.

But Clay, with his vast newspaper experience, explained how journalists are being judged (and promoted – or not) on how many pageviews they generate.

It makes sense, then, they would want the power of your blog and your social media to help them drive pageviews.

Help them help you.

The ROI of Brand Journalism

Which leads me to the ROI of brand journalism.

Take long-form content as an example.

In an American Journalism Review article titled, “Breathing Life into New Stories,” Mary Clare Fischer interviews people who are taking their organizations in this direction.

Glenn Stout, the editor of The Best American Sports Writing series and content editor for the long-form section at SB Nation said about long-form content: 

If you’re only on a page for 10 seconds, you’re not going to be engaged by an ad at all. If you’re on a page for 20 minutes, and an ad can engage you for 10 seconds or 20 seconds or 30 seconds, if it’s got video and nice graphics and music and everything, ha ho, that’s a whole different thing. That’s a business model that can go forward.

Minus the “ha ho” (which I kind of love), really think about that for a minute.

If you blog now and the average time a person spends on your site is one and a half minutes (the average for Spin Sucks), they’re likely not going to be engaged by an ad or sponsored content that takes up a third of their visit time.

But if you have long-form content combined with compelling videos and podcasts and an engaged community, it’s highly likely the 30 second piece of sponsored content is going to make it into their purview because they’re spending significantly more time on your site.

And that, my friends, is the ROI of brand journalism.

Increased pageviews and increased time spent on your site equals money, which is why journalists want to know how you can help them do the same.

If you’re willing to test sponsored content (or native advertising) and sponsorships and other non-invasive forms of advertising, prove you can increase pageviews and the amount of time a visitor spends with your content and you can charge more.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich