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  • Writer's pictureLiz Hayes

Make your branded content strategy stick with the peanut butter and jelly plan

Over the past several months, the Branded Content Project has been working with more than a hundred local media outlets, helping them hone in their content marketing strategies in order to earn new revenue for their company while giving businesses the return on investment by reaching their target audiences.

During that time we’ve discovered that the perfect mix for a media advertising package combines the strength of a sponsorship plan with the important message of storytelling via custom content. There is a lot of success in this area, which we playfully call The Peanut Butter and Jelly Plan.

Sponsored Content is high-quality content designed to inform and engage a specific reader audience for sponsorship purposes. The Branded Content Project provides sponsored content via our ten turnkey lifestyle content series.

Advertiser Content is custom content developed for an advertiser featuring the advertiser’s brand, product and services. The Branded Content Project also provides custom content for clients. Sometimes advertisers themselves provide this content, or the media company can do so.

Combining both sponsored content and advertiser content in a sales package helps sponsors tell their story through your unique distribution channels, assists them in achieving their content marketing goals, allows you to increase your rate upping your branded content revenue, and establishes profitable monthly recurring revenue.

“Local media companies are uniquely positioned to win their clients’ content marketing budgets and provide huge value, while generating profit for their organization,” said Jared Merves, CRO at Distributed Media Lab.

AL DÍA, a media company based in Philadelphia that documents the best of the U.S. Latino experience, understands the combination concept well.

The publication had a successful virtual roundtable event with AARP focusing on a topic that was important to their audience: the 2020 election. According to Business Development Executive Alaitz Ruiz, AL DÍA secured a six-month branded content contract that included the virtual event, custom articles as well as content from The Branded Content Project’s Active Aging series.

“We’re not selling content, we're selling our audience and that has been the biggest point we’ve been discussing,” Ruiz said. “The beauty of this is the content we're putting out is extremely varied, so it aligns with Active Aging, but we’re talking about a variety of topics like the vaccine rollout, and coming up in May, general health disparities in the Latinx community.”

Martin Alfaro, AL DÍA's Director of Business Development, says using the Active Aging series as a starting point gave them confidence to close the deal with AARP, since the organization's brand and mission aligned with the series.

“We showed them the presentation and how it was tailored to their brand and mission. Then we started discussing what is more important to them, like health disparities,” Alfaro said.

The combination of Active Aging articles and custom content focusing on their priorities was what really sold the package.

AL DÍA does a combination of writing the custom content and using advertiser content if they have a team in place for their clients. They keep in mind all content must be culturally relevant and meet editorial standards, and it must be published in both English and Spanish.

Dallas Weekly, a trusted voice for the African American community of North Texas, is using The Peanut Butter and Jelly plan to elevate Black-owned businesses.

Its Business is Black series came to fruition through a connection with billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, whose enterprise Mark Cuban Companies is sponsoring. Business is Black includes articles, videos and promotion across all of Dallas Weekly’s assets for the Black-owned businesses that were chosen by the publication.

“We were cognizant to also pick diverse types of businesses and various backgrounds in industries,” said Jessica Washington, COO of Dallas Weekly. “Even with Mark Cuban, this is an opportunity for him. We are just as much a resource for him as he is for us. These are companies he can potentially invest in,” she said.

The Business in Black companies are benefiting from the custom content, while Mark Cuban Companies benefits from the sponsorship. Patrick Washington, CEO & Co-Publisher of Dallas Weekly emphasizes the importance of selling your unique audience as a media outlet.

“I am providing the audience and I am giving them the audience. It becomes a completely different conversation than why don’t you give me the money to advertise your brand which is already very popular and now I have to prove to you I’ve got the metrics,” he said.

Content marketing provides advertisers with the audience they want to reach while sharing their story. This makes a combination of sponsored and custom content a premium product.

If you would like to watch the full interviews and learn more about The Peanut Butter and Jelly Plan, click the recording or deck below.

The Branded Content Project is here to help local media outlets with sponsored and custom content, training, education and more. To find out how we can help you, reach out to General Manager Julia Campbell at


The 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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