Wednesday 25 April 2018

Creative Newsroom: Brand Storytelling at the Speed of Social

Second in a series of posts about Real-time marketing and Edelman’s Creative Newsroom.

In a previous post and accompanying white paper, we explored the real-time imperative – why brands are racing to create timely, visual content that matches their audience’s interests with breaking news and conversation trends, at the peak of the discussion.

But real-time marketing needs to be about more than just NOW. In order to be truly beneficial, a brand must align short-term, fleeting interest with the long-term brand narrative. In fact, increased emphasis on real-time makes it all the more important for brands to understand and articulate their brand story. Real-time opportunities are bright, shiny content opportunities that can easily distract a brand from its core story if they aren’t careful.

Successful, real-time content needs to be more than timely; it also must be relevant to the brand and resonate with your audience. This ensures that the content isn’t just anybody’s story, it’s your story, and helps advance the overall narrative of your brand.

Experimenting with Real-Time

For the last 12 months, Edelman has been developing real-time branded content for many of our clients, including Captain Morgan, Volkswagen and Adobe. On average, these posts generated 4 to 6 times the level of engagement of a typical post. But just as important as this boost in short-term engagement was, each was designed to advance important content themes for the brand. All of these real-time experiments were informed by a keen understanding of the brand.

The shift to new forms of social content isn’t just about generating more likes on Facebook, views on YouTube, or additional retweets. It’s about ensuring the long-term health of the brand by deepening engagement with fans across multiple points of interest. Whether looking forward to the next product or the next story, customers who actively seek out a brand become its most loyal advocates long-term. Driving anticipation is the key to building genuine brand love. Great storytelling, accomplished at the peak of interest, cements affinity and anticipation.

The Creative Newsroom

The success of this new type of content development has validated our approach to real-time marketing and brand storytelling, shaping the development of models, imperatives and best practices for each. We have formalized our approach to real-time marketing in the form of the creative newsroom.

Edelman built its Creative Newsroom to help brands transform a trending conversation into a brand-relevant visual that resonates with your audience in hours instead of days. Together, Edelman and our client brand teams have been creating a mix of ongoing, real-time and planned creative content that is strategically amplified by paid media.

It works because it deeply integrates the four critical disciplines of community management, creative, analytics and paid media together to provide real-time data, audience insights, design excellence and immediate amplification. Each layer of integration increases the efficiency of the creative newsroom process, ensuring that real-time marketing can be executed efficiently and effectively.

Getting Started: Creative Newsroom 5-Step Activation

It’s relatively easy to jump into real-time marketing: a lot of people are trying to do it. In theory, all you need to do is pick a story, write a quip, create a visual and post it. But it’s hard to get it right – developing timely content that is relevant to your fans and adds value to the brand.

Edelman’s Creative Newsroom includes a critical Enrollment Process that ensures the brand strategists, community managers and creatives are aligned on the best style, approach, editorial focus and goals for the program:

  1. Define the social persona – Clearly articulate the brand’s traits into a social persona, including, brand personality traits, as well as filters for tone, linguistics, attitude, enthusiasm, humor and cadence.
  2. Determine audience affinities – Explore the interests and affinities of the current and target social audience to craft an editorial approach that inspires engagement.
  3. Develop content themes – Identify relevant content themes to establish a critical filter for evaluating whether news, events, trends or memes are relevant for a brand and its audience.
  4. Determine topics to avoid – It’s equally important to identify the topics that should never be used for Creative Newsroom content, or that should be handled with extreme care.
  5. Set performance goals – Establishing performance benchmarks will enable the brand to compare the performance of real-time posts with planned content.

Creative Newsroom Models

Once enrolled in the creative newsroom, we provide three real-time content program options that are tailored to the needs of different brands. These models have been developed based on best practices from past campaigns. However, custom newsroom models can also be created.

Trendspotter programs are designed to help brands become more interesting and relevant in the newsfeed. In this creative newsroom model, the team actively monitors the online conversation for stories and trends that have reached a tipping point and are relevant to the brand’s audience. We pick the best and create original, real-time content to keep your community engaged with 5-10 real-time posts per month.

Newsroom Campaign is your opportunity to turn a launch into a cultural milestone. The Campaign approach helps ensure that conversation about launches, milestones and brand activations don’t end with your announcement. The Newsroom Campaign extends the conversation about you by demonstrating relevance to the trends and topics that people are already talking about. This Campaign model develops a regularly cadence of real-time content for the extent of the campaign, be it a week, a month or the holiday season.

The Daily Desk is the most ambitious offering. It is designed to ensure that a brand isn’t just catching trends, but defining them.  While the conversation changes every day, the Daily Desk helps companies spot and jump on new stories, trends and ideas quickly and strategically. Each morning, the newsroom team meets to match real-time opportunities with audience affinities to engage and excite fans in ways that further the long-term brand narrative. Within a two-hour creative cycle, the team develops, posts and optimizes visual content that connects with audiences at the peak of interest for the things they are talking about today, helping the company become the most relevant brand in the feed.

Case in Point: Real-Time Storytelling

Real-time marketing is already working for many of our client brands. For example, Captain Morgan, Adobe and Volkswagen have each seen significant increases in engagement and advocacy by integrating real-time content into their editorial strategies.

Captain Morgan

For Captain Morgan, our approach to real-time marketing has given the Captain a new role: the cheeky commentator on all things pop culture. He talks. People share. He talks back. Over the last year, the Captain has been quick to react to trending conversations that fans are thinking and talking about.

For example, when Harry’s Vegas adventures made it into the news, the Captain was sure to tell the Queen Mum that Harry wasn’t drinking with him. When news leaked that Kanye and Kim were having a baby, the Captain just happened to overhear Kanye singing “Baby, Baby, Baby.” And as Gangnam style went global, the Captain reminded fans that Pirate Style would never go out of style.

For Adobe, we’ve created a unique social personality by building a dedicated creative team that develops consistent planned and real-time content. The team used Photoshop’s healing brush tool to repair the relationship of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. A simple Valentine’s wish “PS I love you” featuring Photoshop’s initials generated so much brand love, that we boosted it with a target sponsored campaign on Facebook, resulting in 29,000 likes and 3,400 shares. Tapping into Star Wars love, the brand had a little fun introducing Adobe Wan Kenobi, the new Clone tool.

As a result of posts like these, Adobe pages have grown significantly and engendered brand loyalty in the process. The Photoshop Facebook page was ranked #10 on LoudDoor’s recent Brand Satisfaction dashboard. LoudDoor surveyed fans of thousands of the biggest brands on Facebook to reveal their most trusted and most likely-to-recommend brands.


Volkswagen spots trending stories that align with its playful personality, particularly focused on its hero brands, such as the VW Beetle.

When the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour became the most popular trend on Twitter throughout the US, the VW social team asked themselves, were our fans thinking about this, too? Yes, they were talking – and sharing photos of the shuttle. So, we created a visual of the Beetle flying on the back of the Shuttle’s 747 transport plane with a simple statement: “Spotted: Shuttlebug.”

The iconic image of the Beetle has also been used to tell a Valentine’s Day story and to celebrate heritage and family on Father’s Day.

Choosing a Real-time Marketing Partner: Why Edelman’s Creative Newsroom?

In order to be successful, a creative newsroom program must combine a deep understanding of your brand and community, along with the ability to create, measure and amplify content quickly and efficiently.

Edelman is uniquely positioned to help because we have the knowledge, skills, people and experience to bring these disciplines together at the speed of social.

We are creative storytellers. From the original Butterball Turkey Line to introduction of the Xbox to the living room and Starbucks in the home, we’ve crafted the stories that connect consumers with iconic brands in a new way.

Real-time is in our DNA. As the largest PR firm in the world, Edelman’s heritage is built on a real-time news cadence. Needing something NOW is our normal operating speed.

We know brands. We have translated brand promises into social personas and digital campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world, including Volkswagen, Axe, Dove, Samsung Mobile, Microsoft and Shell.

We live and breathe social communities every day. We manage more than 1,000 social communities with more than 100 million fans, creating content, engaging fans, answering questions and measuring success every day. We are the community.

Our paid media experts can quickly amplify high-performing content. Built explicitly for the purpose of optimizing and promoting content in real time, our paid teams are deeply integrated with our community managers and analysts  so that we can monitor, measure and activate in real time.

For more information about Edelman’s perspective on real-time marketing, check out our white paper, The Creative Newsroom: Real-time Marketing is Driving the Long-Term Brand Narrative. You can also reach us directly at or @montelutz on Twitter.

Image credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg

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