Earlier this week we made a big deal over The Washington Post‘s decision to enter the ongoing brand journalism sweepstakes by featuring sponsored advertorials on the front page of its website. That was an important step in the evolution of paid content, but today Fortune took the industry-wide shift in a slightly different direction: the magazine plans to write honest-to-goodness editorial pieces on behalf of its partners/advertisers.
What does this mean, exactly?
Fortune calls the project “Trusted Original Content”, and it will involve the magazine’s editorial teams creating Fortune-branded articles and video/other media content for marketers and PR pros to distribute on their own channels. So these pieces will bear the Fortune name and be written by real journalists, but they won’t qualify as native advertising. And brand reps won’t see them until they’re done–according to Adweek, Fortune’s editors will “have the final say”. Capital One will be the first party to participate by soliciting complimentary stories about small business.
Will promoting posts backed by the power of Fortune give a brand greater credibility? Time Inc. thinks so.
This move is part of the big media company’s attempts to increase profitability at many of its struggling magazines by spinning them off into a single, publicly traded company and encouraging partners and advertisers to spend more money with moves like this one.
The company’s CEO Laura Lang is leaving as well; it looks like a big strategic shift that may affect the way PR pros promote relevant brands’ content.
What do we think? Is this the way things are going in the publishing industry? And will it make journalists and bloggers more receptive to clients’ “branded” stories?