Branded content uses the strength of storytelling to provide valuable benefits to advertisers while increasing audience engagement and revenue for local media publishers. This powerful revenue stream has shown to be a success for many media organizations. The Branded Content Project is designed to help facilitate additional growth, engagement and success for more publishers of all shapes and sizes. The project was developed through a unique partnership between the LMC and the LMA. It is part of a $1 million investment from the Facebook Journalism Project to help more than 2,000 local newsrooms among LMA and LMC members better understand, develop and implement revenue streams through branded content both on and off Facebook. The call for applications was announced in January and ended March 1. Applications came from LMA and LMC members and non-members alike, with close to 40 entries from across the U.S. and as far away as India and Norway.

After five rounds of the selection process — with guidance from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and careful consideration given to those projects that were financially successful, scalable to other markets or media types and could provide lessons for the industry — our 7 Alpha partners were selected. The 7 Amazing Alpha Partners that will be leading industry innovation are ABC Owned Television Station Group, The Dallas Morning News, Graham Media Group, McClatchy, Shaw Media, The Texas Tribune, and WRAL in Raleigh, N.C.

We will highlight one of our Alphas each of the next seven days, allowing you to peek inside their initiative and showcase why they have seen success with branded content. We will follow each of our Alphas every step of the way for the next six months of research, testing and results.

We asked each Alpha partner to fill in the blanks on a few questions focused on branded content. Here is what TEAM SHAW shared with us.

Tell me in a few sentences about your initiative and what you see as the strongest elements of your program.

A few strong elements to our program would include having a content calendar locked in, having topics for the next campaign on reporting during renewal period and the client having direct contact with Evie, our Project Manager. She does check ins with quarterly calls and touching base to ensure all aspects of the campaign are being fulfilled.

My branded content initiative is unique because of the way we package and sell the campaigns. They are yearly contract that include print AND video.

Branded content is an important revenue opportunity for media groups and for advertisers because this is the future of advertising. This is making up for revenue lost from print and the shift is headed to digital and mobile.

The aspect of the Branded Content Project’s Alpha Group that excites me the most is the exposure to other media companies and what they are doing, and learning the best new cutting-edge practices to keep our clients ahead of competitors in the market.

I hope to learn best practices through the Branded Content Project and its Alpha Group.

If a media organization is just starting to sell branded content I would tell them that clients must sign a minimum 6-month agreement and have a content calendar ready and SHOW THEM EXAMPLES! If they do not know what native is, the best way to show them is examples.