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  • Writer's pictureLiz Hayes

Takeaways from Graham Media Group's branded content relaunch

Updated: May 1


Recently the Branded Content Project welcomed Dawn Jorgenson, branded content managing editor for Graham Media Group, to the Big Branded Call to discuss how she led the broadcaster's relaunch of branded content.


Graham Media Group needed to define the process, packages, and reporting, as well as establish guidelines for the organization's entire branded content sales strategy. Jorgenson says this helped increase profits from around $40k previously to more than $350k so far this year. 


Bringing in minimal profits in content marketing and having little understanding of branded content among sellers, Jorgenson knew she was in for a big job. One of the challenges was connecting all of the various departments within the organization to ensure everyone was on the same page, so they began by leading comprehensive presentations across the markets.


"When we did the relaunch we went to all of our markets. That would be Detroit, Roanoke, Houston, San Antonio, Jacksonville and Orlando," Jorgenson said. "We have some really big markets, and then we have some on the smaller side, but the relaunch was the same for everyone."


The relaunch involved training sales teams on identifying ideal clients and best practices for selling branded content. It also created editorial guidelines, pricing packages, and use of project management and reporting tools.

Jorgenson emphasizes to sellers to focus on selling 6-12 month campaigns in order to get the best results, which the company now reports to branded content clients. She has taken the lead on interviewing clients and writing long-form articles across various verticals including health, law and restaurants.


"An important part of this is letting them know that we have a process and this isn't just some computer that's writing this content. I'm engaging with the client and we make sure the client is communicative, because it's a partnership," Jorgenson said.


Articles are tagged as "sponsored" and include a disclaimer at the top. Otherwise Jorgenson says they aim to blend in visually with other content on the site to feel native. 

Packages typically include social posts of articles and minimum spends are strongly recommended at $2,500 for campaigns. In addition to a custom 500-1,000 word article, advertisers receive 3-5 headline options, 2-3 images, companion ads, and hyperlinks to their website.


To make sure clients have a clear understanding of expectations, Jorgenson shares a timeline which includes an initial interview, first draft, one round of editing, a second draft, client approval and finally scheduling the campaign.


Graham places branded content articles on their websites and is exploring incorporating video content through lifestyle shows and other formats. The revamp has also led to reporting standards and metrics for branded content which gives clients a clear understanding of how their content performs over time.


With all new endeavors there are questions that pop up and new issues that need to be solved which Jorgenson says it's a work in progress. They hope to build larger packages and bring on bigger clients.


"The next thing we're working on now is creating presentations for premier partnerships, and these are gonna be partnerships with clients we think could spend $10,000 plus."


Need help with your media organization's branded content strategy? The Branded Content Project is available to offer training, turnkey sales products and support. Want to join the next Big Branded Call? Sign up here!

 

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


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