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  • Writer's pictureLiz Hayes

Help your local advertisers stand out with custom content

Our last Big Branded Call of the year was all about custom content and why it is an amazing advertising solution for local clients who want to get noticed, and a great stream of revenue for your outlet.

Featuring Tanisha Leonard, president of Pitch Black (a Real Times Media company, formerly known as RTM360°) and Caitlin Hendee, director of editorial at Distributed Media Lab, we highlighted Pitch Black's successful custom-built Community EmPOWERment campaign.

Hendee explained that custom content informs and engages the audience, while aligning with a brand's voice. If your client wants to drive brand awareness and position themselves as an industry expert through engaging content, custom content should be included in a sales package presented to them.

"Brands really want to stand out. They want to be different from their competitors, and custom content is a way to give them just that. It's a step above ads because it connects with the audience by providing relevant information that they are seeking out," Hendee said.

We offer professional custom articles as well as full custom series for local advertisers and brands. A professional article can be used to highlight a specific initiative or goal for the brand, creating awareness for a period of time. Selling a custom article is also a great way to establish a relationship with a brand.

A custom series gives the audience continuous content through expanded awareness and reach. This is the most effective way to establish a brand as an authority in its industry.

Tanisha Leonard joined the Big Branded Call to talk about successfully selling a custom content series called Community EmPOWERment to electric company Duquesne Light Company (DLC). The special series, which lives on the Pittsburgh Courier's website, features unique content centered around four pillars: social and economic equity, workforce development, education, and sustainable communities. It's been highly successful for the advertiser and Pittsburgh Courier.

In addition to the custom collection hosted on the paper's homepage, the client also gets amplification through newsletter distribution. DLC has continued to come back to Pitch Black for their expertise and unique audience, cementing a trusted working relationship.

"It's really about establishing that consultative relationship with your customers to make them comfortable," Leonard said.

Pitch Black also helps DLC with messaging development, particularly around the social justice landscape. The client also sponsors a community spotlight that gives smaller businesses and organizations a space to amplify their message.

Leonard says custom content is something that's a new concept for many of their local advertisers. DLC trusted Pitch Black to bring their professional perspective as a Black publication to the series.

"They realized that they have been absent from the Black community in Pittsburgh, and they wanted a way to substantially re-engage. So we did a full communications platform for them," she said.

Creating something custom also gives the media outlet the opportunity to charge more for a premium product, which means higher profit margins, and hopefully, recurring long-term revenue.

Leonard used one of DML's unique content collections, which are easily embedded on an outlet's website through a turnkey process. The visual, pop-out display is easy for readers to engage with content, and clients love how their brand is featured.

Many clients can be a good fit for custom content. Here at the Meta Branded Content Project, we can help you come up with ideas and support you with building a sales presentation for your custom pitch. Once you sell an article or series, you can order custom content in the DML Marketplace. There are three subscription options available: micro, medium and mega plans (see graphic above).

Have any questions? Don't hesitate to reach out at or


The Meta Branded Content Project is designed through a strategic partnership between the Local Media Association, the Local Media Consortium, and the Facebook Journalism Project to help facilitate additional growth, engagement, and revenue success for more publishers of all shapes and sizes.

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