Monetizing Journalism by Moving It Closer to the PR Business

Monetizing Journalism by Moving Closer to the PR Business

It wasn’t that long ago that poaching a journalist to write a company blog was considered avant-garde.

Now that most major brands have figured out the potential power of owned media, the real experimentation begins.

This dynamic isn’t lost on publishers still in search of the killer revenue stream. If companies harbor illusions of cultivating their own media properties and a critical-mass readership, what are the ramifications for the “real” publishers?

For one publication the answer comes in the cliché, “If Mohammed will not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed.”

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Fortune, the bluest of the blue chips when it comes to long-form journalism in business, recently hatched a product called TOC (trusted original content). Why they decided to riff on TQC (total quality control) – doesn’t exactly send the heart racing – is beyond me.

What exactly is TOC?

For a price point that starts around $250K, Fortune will write stories for a company’s owned media. That’s right. You can think of Fortune as a content bureau.

I suppose the price premium comes from the assumed halo that will follow the Fortune content. But Fortune won’t be deploying its own staff for this dirty work. The plan calls for aggregating the horsepower of freelance journalists – no, make that “trusted” freelancers; need to stay true to the brand – to produce this content.

If I’m understanding the value proposition, it goes something like this:

  • We will deliver high-quality content to your owned media by managing a stable of freelance journalists. By applying the same Fortune expertise for guiding and editing compelling narratives, we will ensure Fortune-grade stories … even though the writing is not done by the Fortune staff.

You have to give Fortune credit for chutzpah.

Even at the low end, $250K buys a lot of freelance stories on the open market. Given the sizable pool of out-of-work journalists causing supply to far exceed demand, why wouldn’t you just hire an editor from Fortune and cut out the middle man?

Oh, that’s right.

LinkedIn did.

Note: This post pinwheels off the AdWeek story, “Fortune Writes Articles Exclusively for Advertisers.”

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