­­How to Build a Distributed Branded Newsroom

An emergent opportunity for entrepreneurs building companies is to decentralize the content function by moving to a participatory, distributed publishing model. Here, your entire team is responsible for content – not one function.

One of the biggest issues a lot of larger, legacy-minded enterprises face is a blind adherence to “the way it’s always been” in terms of structuring the marketing function and, specifically, content output. The problem is, we don’t live in the same world that we did even ten years ago when I began my SaaS career. The media landscape has changed dramatically.

The premise of my book CONTENT CAPITALIST is that old model is broken. It’s no longer sufficient to have a couple content writers as the ones “in charge” of creation and distribution.

By far, a better option is a bottom-up model where your entire organization becomes collectively responsible for content – documenting insights, unleashing their perspectives, or simply sharing obscure details about their domain expertise on a branded, almost open source platform where everyone at the company disseminates their thoughts, unrestricted in any capacity.

Moving to a Distributed Model

My prior experience is mainly in marketing automation, so I’ll use that as an example. If I’m a Director of Marketing, for instance, where do I really go to get information that’s going to shift and shape my perspective on my work?

Is it in a relatively rudimentary piece of content written by a junior content coordinator on a vendor’s biased blog? Is it really on a service provider’s Twitter page where a social media manager is spouting off generic ideas to try to sell a product?

Part of the problem, to put it another way, is that most scale-up or large companies have their multi-member content team creating 101-level subject matter for a target whose baseline is at least at 301. 

What if there was a way to flip that? What if we could release better content from more qualified internal experts? This would include the people behind the curtain (the engineers, the systems and IT guys, the people “in” the product). It could include users, audience members, or customers, too.

On top of that, with the encroachment of AI plus more creator tools reducing the barrier to entry for content, we now have the tools to amplify quantity infinitely but quality is starting to ever-so-slightly deteriorate in tandem. We’re now in this subtle arms race to amplify output but output alone isn’t enough – now, authenticity is taking precedence.

Quantity plus authenticity equals attention, the holy grail for business owners.

In the old model, the system capacity just wasn’t there to allow for quantity to the degree which can be possible with a “distributed” content mechanism.

What I’m proposing is this: opening idea sourcing and even content publishing to the entire organization – by encouraging, enabling and even enforcing everyone in the company to become in-house brand journalists. At minimum, this can be optional. To the extreme, you could even require it as a condition of employment.

Product is important. R&D is always a priority. So is running the organization. But content is now as (if not more) consequential than all those things.

A distributed model accounts for both quantity and quality, aka authenticity.

A Company-Centric Content Model

Such a shift would remove the burden from one or two writers or bloggers currently at the helm. Marketers would no longer be the sole generators of company content.

This is not such a radical proposition when you consider that most enterprises already use some employee-contributed content in some form, even if its just culture videos, customer interviews or re-sharing team member’s posts form the corporate handle. I’m suggesting that it’s time to take that from 10% to 100%.

If I were molding a new content function for any growth-stage company, regardless of industry, personnel, or resource capacity, I’d have them institute some variation of this employee-fueled decentralized publishing house. Instead of a content person creating everything – as a bottleneck, no less, who doesn’t have behind-the-scenes expertise to create at the level that’s needed, anyway – every employee would be expected to write or record content pertinent to their function.

It’s naive to think that anyone under 40 doesn’t have the know-how or skills to contribute content for a company media hub. They do it in their own life (if they have a LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), so they can do it for the company. You need contributor guidelines, a little direction, an editor at the helm, and that’s that. 

I’d hire one Editor-in-Chief to run the show, maybe one program manager to edit for consistency and grammar, manage the fluid editorial calendar, and help format content, then rely on my extended team to provide relevant material as in-house “reporters.” 

The content itself can be raw – it doesn’t have to be release-ready when it’s shipped. It just has to be authentic. In addition to serving the content to my in-house editor, I’d request (or require) that employees focus on their personal brand just as much as whatever their day job currently is.

Yes, we’re to that point.

In a creator-centric model, the system constraint is the capacity – and knowledge base – of the team responsible for creating content. But let’s be honest: most content managers are trained to write for SEO and top-funnel traffic, not for the customer.

With a company-centric newsroom, there is no constraint. Content is guaranteed to be more diverse, more relevant and more value-additive for an audience who’s looking for real, tangible, unbiased stuff that they know they won’t glean from a surface-level blog written by a junior marketing person.

Fig 1: Firms who create a distributed newsroom versus relying on an insufficient content team can reap unique benefits.

This format would simultaneously achieve three things. It would:

  • Release captive insights held by subject matter experts who may otherwise have no inclination to share
  • Enable exhaustive, end-to-end knowledge-sharing – not just for prospects but for the benefit of the entire company
  • Turn your media platform into an open forum to enable a greater diversity of viewpoints without heavy constriction of a gatekeeper

Your editor isn’t so much saying “yes” or “no” to what comes in; they’re circulating brand guidelines, sharing prompts to help foster ideas, setting quarterly themes, for example, and collecting and standardizing the resultant incoming assets for distribution.

Employee-Generated Content: Examples

I didn’t truly know the nuts and bolts of the software for any of the companies I worked for in the past. But you know who did? The solutions team. The product people. The programmers. All willing and able producers of content. All we had to do was ask.

We did that in two ways at the marketing automation platform I was with back in 2017. We got our eclectic Solutions Consultant team involved in running a bottom-funnel fireside chat series where they shared behind-the-curtain insights about campaign building and execution.

Fig 2: Two of my old colleagues Fred and Josh interview guests for a client-facing show.

We got their team leader bought-in first so we could frame it as a new but crucial part of the job – an opportunity for them to showcase their knowledge and be front-facing in content – not as a addition to their already-hectic workload. And they took right to it.

The “Performance Series,” as we called it, unlocked loads of nuance that had been stored in their minds but otherwise never would’ve seen the light of day. So, the value-packed three-season program gave them a space to discuss best practices, drop tips to get the most out of the software, and reveal specific use cases to bring clients a more technical hands-on view that my small content team honestly never could’ve provided, no matter how great of writers we were.

It wasn’t meant to drive loads of new traffic. It wasn’t meant to attract leads. It was content that was meant to create better customers. And isn’t that the purpose of all content?

We took a similar approach with a (now defunct) company podcast. Even though I was the one orchestrating it, the purpose was to empower influencers and clients to tell their stories, not for the marketing team to go heehaw about how great we were.

Fig 3: When I was at Emarsys, we ran a mid-funnel podcast interviewing employees and customers.

Depending on the company, there may be hundreds of would-be creators willing and eager to liberate their wisdom. In this way, employee-contributed content could unlock an entirely new stream of hidden value.

You may get some push back in the beginning, especially from older employees or others who are already at full capacity with important projects. That’s inevitable. Help them understand that that’s exactly why you want to work with them to start sharing their work – precisely because it’s so important that it’s too valuable to be kept in isolation. They don’t need to reveal proprietary company secrets or the personal details of their day-to-day. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re asking for contribution, for thought leadership. Also help them understand the value of building their personal brand. Frame the exercise as being crucial to bolstering their value to the organization and to your customers – they’re so good at what they do, they need to be sharing on social, allowing you to reshare their insights, etcetera.

I cannot think of a single time I’ve solicited contributed content from my extended team and not’ve been exceedingly pleased with their contribution. It is always better, more nuanced, than what I could’ve ever delivered. Is it sometimes unorganized? Yes. Does it often need to be cleaned up? Of course. Even still, it’s always better.

The fact is, in the new digital economy, your content team should not be writing your content (bold statement, right?). They should be editing it, organizing it, obtaining it, running the media house – operating on the macro where their value will be more impactful, anyways.

Accessing Employee-Contributed Content

In a 2023 podcast episode, Gary Vaynerchuk astutely recognized how much downtime in-store associates (or cubicle employees) often have; why not ask them to record slice-of-life musings, office tours, product reviews, or informal conversations to maximize that excess time for which they’re getting paid?

Why not have them share three long-form posts per week on LinkedIn – on whatever topic they wanted, with a little coaching from your content people?

You could then turn your social media manager into more of a facilitator or even trainer, and shift their responsibilities to curation, collection, and compilation. Then they could publish various snippets from the team in a single asset from the corporate handle(s) – which would also free them up to distribute more fresh content at a higher frequency since it’s getting produced by other creators as part of this new content combustion engine.

Suddenly, the company could transform itself into a real-time media platform just by unlocking a dormant stockpile of content ammunition with which to work.

This kind of approach would require almost no added input but let you access almost exponential output simply by leveraging surplus time that would’ve otherwise been lost.

And if you don’t want to try turn your “corporate ship” this drastically, or if you can’t enlist employees, for whatever reason, there are still other ways to make this shift to a smaller degree. You can start:

  • Going live at conferences, company outings, or other get togethers
  • Do office walkthroughs, conducting impromptu interviews or spontaneous gamified experiences with the extended team
  • Do a sort of internal “street team” every Friday by conducting 2-minute interviews at a “booth” or studio to collect topical snippets for a compilation video


A distributed newsroom model makes sense from every perspective you look at it. It’s the best move for your audience. It’s the best move for customers. And it’ll take the brunt of creation off your back, allowing for better content to be run at a higher frequency with much more variety.

Listen to this article on the podcast, here:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify

>> Grab your copy of my new book, CONTENT CAPITALIST where I cover many of these ideas in greater detail.


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