What is a Media Company & Why Your Brand Should Be One

Brands need to think, act and operate like a media company. The only way to be successful in today’s disjointed digital ecosystem is to create content and tell stories that matter to your target consumer and do so quickly, efficiently, and with precision.

Why this matters:

Content is the lifeline in today’s social ecosystem, so it makes sense. But content is much more than being creative or launching a marketing campaign. It’s more than what you write on a blog, tweet, update on Facebook, or record on a video. A fundamental challenge for brands today is to create good content and strategically feed the content engine daily. And sadly, there aren’t enough resources within most marketing teams to do this well.

Brand as a media company has been discussed among the marketing community for years. I even wrote a book about it in 2013 called Your Brand: The Next Media Company.

What is a Media Company?

A media company ideates, creates, packages, and distributes content across multiple platforms, including social, video, web, long-form, short-form, video, audio, and more. They are storytellers, designers, copywriters, and analysts and have extensive knowledge of making content travel fast and far on the internet. They operate much like a traditional newsroom. They produce relevant content quickly and efficiently and have agile teams.

Below is a model showing the internal and external initiatives needed to transform into a media company.

What is a media Company? A media company creates content in real-time targeted towards relevant audiences.

The media company model is broken down into four workstreams, separated by internal planning and execution:

  • Team Structure & Organizational Planning: Build an agile and cross-functional team, integrated with agency and other 3rd party support. This requires significant internal business planning, identifying roles & responsibilities, and establishing partnerships with content creation platforms like Contently, Optimizely, Content at Scale, and others.
  • Content Narrative & Brand Strategy: Develop a content and brand narrative to inform all pre-planned campaign content and real-time content opportunities. Writing a brand or campaign narrative requires an in-depth audience analysis and media landscape analysis, 3rd party primary research, and internal discovery sessions.
  • Creative Newsroom Activation: Launch a brand newsroom to house all owned media content; and be used to create real-time, long-form stories based on what’s trending. Two workstreams need to happen to make this work. First is developing a content hub (i.e., landing page destination) requiring software development and web design. The second is establishing an operational content model that mimics a traditional newsroom.
  • Converged Media & Activation: Integrate owned content with campaigns, paid media activations, and brand sponsorships through a PESO marketing model. Repurpose existing content for activation on TikTok, Instagram, and other platforms.

A Roadmap to Becoming a Media Company

Embarking on the journey to transform your brand into a media company can seem daunting, but the process becomes more manageable with a clear roadmap. The following table provides a step-by-step guide to help you navigate this transformation.

Each step outlines a crucial part of the process, from defining your brand’s narrative to continually evolving to stay relevant in the ever-changing digital landscape. Let’s dive in and explore these steps in detail.

StepDistribute your content across the platforms identified in your content strategy. This could include your website, social media platforms, email newsletters, etc.
1. Define Your Brand’s NarrativeCreate a clear and compelling story about your brand, its values, and its mission that resonates with your target audience and differentiates you from your competitors.
2. Understand Your AudienceConduct market research to identify your target audience’s needs, preferences, and behaviors. This will help you create content that resonates with them and meets their needs.
3. Build Your Content StrategyOutline the types of content you will create, the platforms you will use to distribute it, and how often you will publish new content. This strategy should align with your brand narrative and audience research.
4. Assemble Your TeamBuild a diverse team of professionals, including content creators, editors, designers, and analysts. You may also need to partner with external agencies or platforms to support your content creation and distribution efforts.
5. Create Your ContentStart creating content based on your content strategy. Focus on quality over quantity. Your content should provide value to your audience and reinforce your brand narrative.
6. Distribute Your ContentDistribute your content across the platforms identified in your content strategy. This could include your website, social media platforms, email newsletters, and more.
7. Monitor and AdjustUse analytics tools to monitor the performance of your content and adjust your strategy as needed. Track engagement, reach, and other key metrics to refine your content strategy and make improvements.
8. Engage with Your AudienceRespond to comments, ask for feedback, and encourage discussion to build a community around your brand and foster stronger relationships with your audience.
9. Continually EvolveKeep up with industry trends, experiment with new types of content, and continually refine your strategy to stay relevant in the changing digital landscape.

External Factors Causing Disruption

If I haven’t convinced you, here are a few more reasons why you should be thinking about adopting the principles of a media company:

  • We live in a multi-screen economy. Read this report by Google. We are all consuming content using multiple devices, sometimes simultaneously.
  • ADD (meaning Attention Deficit Disorder) is common among us. We can blame the multitude of devices, all the marketing messages, coffee, or a combination of all three. How often have you walked into a restaurant and seen four people sitting at a table, all looking down at their devices and no one talking? It’s the world we live in.
  • All we want is relevance. This is one reason consumers create filters – they only consume content relevant to them at a given time. It reminds me of when I was in the market to refinance my home a few years back. During the process, I remember seeing hundreds of messages and advertisements discussing interest rates on billboards, online searches, and even conversations on Twitter and Facebook. The minute I refinanced my home, all the messages went away. The truth is, they didn’t go away. They just weren’t relevant to me any longer. I put up filters.
  • The customer journey is dynamic. We check text messages, Facebook notifications, @replies, @mentions @direct messages, and comments on TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. We see status updates, tweets, photos, and videos and read articles from news aggregators’ RSS feeds; Google is our home page for everything and our gateway for finding relevance. And this is all done dynamically, with no routine or process, just random acts of daily content consumption.
  • We must interact with a message 3 – 5 times before we believe it. So if your company is launching a new product or service, we need to hear or read about it in multiple touch points such as a tweet, a news article, a friend’s status update, in search, and the list.

Can you now see why brands need to evolve their thinking? Relevant, meaningful, timely stories fueled by a media company mentality are necessary to reach consumers.

Media Companies Always Win: Success Stories

When it comes to brands successfully transitioning into media companies, a few standout examples have redefined their industries. One such brand is Red Bull. Known initially for its energy drink, Red Bull has become a global media powerhouse, producing content that resonates with its target audience’s lifestyle.

From hosting extreme sports events to producing music and entertainment content, Red Bull’s media endeavors have solidified its status as more than just a beverage company. Its media company, Red Bull Media House, has even won several awards for its productions, further cementing Red Bull’s position as a leading media brand.

Another brand that has successfully transitioned into a media company is Glossier. This beauty brand has leveraged the power of content to engage its audience and build a loyal community. Glossier’s blog, “Into The Gloss,” was the precursor to the brand itself and continues to be a significant driver of its success.

The blog features beauty tips, product reviews, and interviews with industry professionals, providing valuable content that keeps its audience engaged and coming back for more. By prioritizing content and community, Glossier has managed to stand out in the highly competitive beauty industry and establish itself as a media company.

Challenges of Becoming a Media Company

Another brand that has successfully made this shift is REI. Their blog, Uncommon Path, contains articles, videos, and podcasts on various outdoor topics. They focus on educating their audience and providing value rather than product promotion. This approach has helped them establish themselves as a trusted source of information in the outdoor industry, strengthening their customer relationships and helping them hold a strong market position despite the rise in competitive brands.

To emulate REI’s success, you must invest in the right resources, such as a team with the right skill sets and access to tools for real-time trending analysis, content creation, and distribution. Additionally, you should focus on creating high-quality content that provides value to your audience rather than spamming them with brand messages all day.

It’s easier said than done. Becoming a media company is hard and comes with several challenges.

One of the primary challenges is speed. Creating content quickly and effectively is essential in the media industry. You need the right teams and skill sets to keep pace. You need a system in place to monitor real-time trending topics and create content that is both timely and relevant.

Another challenge is operations and structure. To produce high-quality content at scale, you must be able to adjust your priorities and align with what’s trending in the market and what audiences are talking about. This requires a streamlined decision-making process and a deep understanding of the target audience.

Finally, investing in the right tools and personnel is crucial. Adopting a media company mindset requires access to tools for real-time trending analysis, content creation, and distribution. This includes hiring the right staff, such as editors, copywriters, designers, and analysts. Investing in the right resources may be costly, but keeping up with the speed of the internet and customer decision-making is necessary.

What Does a Media Company Do?

Media companies are content engines. The challenge is that content is already challenging for brands today when you consider the full content lifecycle:

The Content Lifecycle

Creating content that resonates with your audience and drives business objectives is not a matter of chance. It requires a well-planned and executed content strategy. This strategy is built on several key pillars, each crucial in ensuring your content reaches your target audience and engages and converts them.

  • Content planning: Mapping what content to create and when. Essentially this is building an editorial calendar.
  • Content production: Writing, editing, producing, filming. This is the “act” of creating content.
  • Content optimization: Optimizing content for search and social media, such as titles, metadata, tags, etc.
  • Content distribution: Syndicating content across multiple channels, including owned media, third-party media, and social networks. Essentially it’s activating and distributing your content across the PESO marketing model.
  • Content measurement: Measuring the performance of your marketing campaigns, content analysis, and building ROI models.

Here’s a basic example of how a content workflow and approval may look for your brand. Larger media companies will have more complex workflows:

A content approval and workflow used by a media company.

If you look at what many companies are doing online today, you will notice disjointed content, confusing messages, and very little coordination with paid, earned, and owned media; the frequency of content is minimal, and the content engine is running low on fumes. And these are just the external things that we see. We don’t know the turmoil of what’s happening inside the organization.

This is why brands must become media companies. It’s essential for their PR strategy and the only way to stay competitive.

They are establishing a centralized team, assigning roles & responsibilities (like that of a newsroom), and building processes and protocols that brands (large and small) can take to begin this digital transformation.


What does it mean for brands to become media companies?

When brands become media companies, it signifies a shift from merely advertising products or services to producing and distributing original content. It focuses on storytelling, audience engagement, and providing value beyond traditional offerings.

Why are brands becoming media companies?

Brands are evolving into media companies to take control of their narratives, foster stronger relationships with their audience, and position themselves as thought leaders. This transformation allows them to provide value beyond their standard offerings and builds a deeper connection with their audience.

What are the benefits of brands becoming media companies?

Transitioning into a media company helps brands to create tailored, engaging content that creates action. It also gives them control over their messaging, establishes authority, and opens up new avenues to reach audiences directly.

What challenges do brands face when becoming media companies?

Brands may encounter several challenges in this transition, including creating a consistent and compelling content strategy, ensuring content quality, understanding audience preferences, and allocating resources for content creation and distribution.

What challenges do brands face when becoming media companies?

Brands may encounter several challenges in this transition, including creating a consistent and compelling content strategy, ensuring content quality, understanding audience preferences, and allocating resources for content creation and distribution.

What types of content do brands create as media companies?

Brands that adopt media company characteristics create content like blog posts, white papers, case studies, webinars, podcasts, videos, and social media content. This content typically provides value and aligns with the brand’s ethos and areas of expertise.

How does a brand transition into a media company?

The transition starts with a clear content strategy, which includes identifying audience needs and interests and deciding on the type and frequency of content. Then, resources must be allocated for content creation and distribution, and the strategy’s effectiveness should be assessed regularly.

What role does social media play for brands as media companies?

Social media is a vital platform for brands acting as media companies. It gives them direct access to engage with customers, gather feedback, and distribute brand messages into the marketplace. It also allows for user-generated content, further boosting audience engagement.

How can brands measure the success of their transition into media companies?

The success of a brand’s transition into a media company can be measured through metrics like audience engagement, content reach, leads generated, and conversion rates. In addition, audience feedback and sentiment analysis can also yield valuable insights.

How does becoming a media company impact a brand’s relationship with its audience?

The transition to a media company can significantly enhance a brand’s relationship with its audience. By providing valuable, engaging content, a brand can establish trust, foster loyalty, and better understand its audience’s needs and preferences.

What future trends might be seen in brands becoming media companies?

Trends could include greater content personalization, increased multimedia and interactive content use, audience participation, and substantial reliance on AI and data analytics to inform content strategies.

Michael Brito

Michael Brito is a Digital OG. He’s been building brands online since Al Gore invented the Internet. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.