The Branded Content Project was pleased to welcome Leonard Corbin, sales director of Real Times Media's Michigan Chronicle to the Big Branded Call in November (watch the recording here). Corbin spoke of the paper's successful strategy of building sponsored special sections that grow connection and trust to their audience, while creating a lucrative revenue stream for the newspaper.
One of the paper's features is a page called, Roots, which connects folks in the Metro Detroit community. Rather than offering a display or banner ad, Corbin came up with a unique proposal for DTE, one of the area's premier energy companies, that would address an on-going issue the community was facing: power outages.
"So we came up with DTE Empowering the Community, a full page takeover that happens once a month. All of the content is provided to us by the client," Corbin said.
Topics like switching to electric vehicles, educating the community on checking gas meters, affordable gas and other engaging topics that leave readers informed and educated were provided for the campaign by the client. They add value to the utility by repurposing the content in the paper's email newsletter. The annual campaign earned the newspaper an impressive $80,000.
In another Roots section takeover, the paper worked with Comerica, a large regional bank that sponsored unique content provided by the client that also sought to bring the community together by highlighting its volunteer endeavors. Corbin says they charged a premium for taking over the entire section.
"Now we know clients want to engage more. They want to get their story out, they want to connect more. So even when they're doing a display ad, a lot of the times that display ad is talking about something they're doing in the community, or how their service is helping the community," Corbin said.
Comerica provided content highlighting remarkable employees which gave them the opportunity to connect positively to the community while showing that they care about who works for them. This form of cause marketing is an effective way for a brand to relate to audiences.
Although they don't have a huge amount of unique visitors to their site, Michigan Chronicle sells its value as the premier Black-owned newspaper in the Detroit area with qualified and engaged readers. Special section takeovers are an effective way to increase revenue for the organization, while giving brands the opportunity to connect to their target audience.
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The Meta Branded Content Project is designed through a strategic partnership between the Local Media Association, the Local Media Consortium, and the Meta Journalism Project to help facilitate additional growth, engagement, and revenue success for more publishers of all shapes and sizes.