Publishers are under increasing pressure to find new audiences and new streams of sustainable, recurring revenue that can be supported with existing infrastructure or minimal, if any, investment. Agencies, whose core goal is client retention and relationships, need new channels to support those clients, given ever-changing market conditions and budgets, and due to current events, the punishing status of the news cycle. One solution for both is to tap into a growing segment of people who are just beginning to discover the power of the creator movement: professionals and executives.
So far, the renaissance of the creator movement has been led by entrepreneurial individuals building credibility and audience by publishing on platforms such as Substack, Cameo and TikTok. Jarrod Dicker, an influential blogger on the future of media and vp, commercial at The Washington Post, says that in the future, media companies should look a lot like record labels, which are focused on giving talent the resources they need to build an audience and drive financial returns.
Publishers have the potential to be the next hot platform for executive creators or professionals who aspire to be creators, publishing content that resonates with new audiences and builds new talent at scale.
“The ‘monetize the individual’ disruption in media serves as an opportunity for business reinvention of companies who choose to recognize and react to this newly acknowledged trend forming,” Dicker said in the post.
Media companies and agencies must monetize the executive/professional by providing the steady foundation upon which those individuals build their platforms, amplify their voices and find new audiences for their thought leadership. Publishers already have the credibility, reach and infrastructure that this new demographic values. They can open up access to their professional editors, audio services for podcasting and video production services, giving professionals a framework that comes with white-glove attention and support in exchange for a membership or subscription fee. They can leverage their own internal resources, or partner with organizations. Done right, this helps support the newsroom and its journalistic endeavors with a new source of revenue.
On the agency side, clients who are thought leaders or who have the potential to become creators are offered a new channel to build their voices and platform. This builds long-term client stickiness for agencies since it ties them to thought leaders’ strategy and makes them a valuable partner in the audience development process. The agency-client relationship becomes deeper and more engaging, rather than be driven primarily by traditional conversion-style metrics, such as the ability to secure a slot on prime-time media.
This concept is fundamentally different from the now familiar—and risky—tactic of simply opening up a contributor portal indiscriminately. It also varies from traditional native content campaigns and “pay to play” media buys, which have always been more about product promotion, advertorials and custom branded content.
In this executive creator model, publishers establish a credible program that’s invitation-only. Creators—or the agencies that represent them—may join only if they meet and adhere to strict vetting and editorial criteria that might include background checks, industry reputation and track record. Once accepted, they’d pay an annual subscription fee. In exchange, the media company would provide services and support for all the multi-dimensional infrastructure that can help professionals amplify their voices through contributed content that meets the publication’s high-quality standard. Both sides maintain their integrity and are protected from poor execution and bad content. Variations of this model are already being successfully implemented at a few media properties.
Entrepreneur Media launched Entrepreneur Leadership Network, a vetted community of experts who apply, are interviewed and then pay for a suite of benefits that includes direct access to the company’s content submission system, in addition to a dedicated editor. Members establish themselves as industry experts and their content may be shared in Entrepreneur’s newsletters.