What marketers need to know about the rise of the brand editor

As content marketing has become an important part of the marketing mix so too has the role of the brand editor. Shafqat Islam, chief executive and co-founder, NewsCred looks at the rise of this profession, which combines journalistic skills with marketing.

From ASOS Magazine to Tesco’s Eat Happy Project, brilliant examples of brand editing are everywhere you turn. Some of the most exciting content initiatives are going beyond blogs and articles, to podcasts, video series, and even experiential, real-life encounters.

A new hybrid

Brand editors take authentic content and find new platforms and avenues on which it can continue to expand

Tesco’s senior editor Angharad Llewellyn, who leads the brand’s social media output, has said that the same principles for journalists also stand true for brand editors: "As a journalist, you’re always looking for a good story and how to tell it, and as a brand editor, you have to tell the story of your company – but you have to tell it in a way that makes your audience feel warm and interested and wanting to know more."

Brand editors take authentic content and find new platforms and avenues on which it can continue to expand, ideally in ways that are profitable for their brand. A typical day can encompass anything from developing new ideas for relevant content and campaigns, to ensuring that every single aspect of a brand’s output is on-point in terms of voice and identity.

A brand as big as Tesco, for instance, can have a whole army of brand editors, each responsible for a different aspect of the business. So while Llewellyn is in charge of social, her colleagues at Zone (just one of the agencies that works with Tesco) tackle other content challenges and projects like the brand blog; while the Eat Happy campaign has a brand editor and dedicated team all of its own.

Smaller brands, on the other hand, may require just one editor or a small team of editors reporting into an editorial director or head of content. Regardless of company size, the brief is the same: to create truly captivating stories and experiences for brands’ audiences – arguably the most significant and influential element of modern marketing.

This job isn’t without its challenges, however. As a relatively new venture for most brands, many editors are still defining their roles and remits, often working to get buy-in from senior stakeholders in the process. NewsCred has begun hosting dinners for brand editors to share insight and best practices, and one of the common points we’ve heard echoed around the table is how difficult it can be to get senior executives on board with content that isn’t all about their brand or products.

One of the challenge faced by brand editors is getting senior executives on board with content that isn’t all about their brand or products

Get with the programme

Yet they’re going to have to get on board, or risk falling behind other brands: audiences are savvy enough now to know the difference between editorial writing and sales writing, and it’s editorial they prefer. Brands not only need to find people who excel at creating content rather than selling it, but let them have the free reign necessary to create this kind of quality editorial.

"The industry has such a huge hunger for this kind of content," says Llewellyn. "Brands have to get creative and speak to customers in their own language, and have that as part of their traditional mix."

The rise of brand journalism signals an exciting time in media, and it shows no signs of slowing down: more and more brands are growing their editorial teams, and branching out into new forms of quality content.

The next iteration? Agencies snapping up editors and creatives direct from the brands themselves. Just this August, for instance, Leeds-based firm Finn Communications pounced on former ASOS editor Emma Sibbles, naming her head of creative and content.

Whatever this year may bring to the world of marketing, you can be sure there will be an army of brand editors helping the industry evolve.

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