Unlocking the Gold Mine: Beyond the Initial Publication of Your Content

by Syndia Torres-Peña

Publishers create content pipelines to inform, influence, and engage core audiences. Products and services are modeled with profit and loss assumptions across business units for success. One element not always strategically factored in is dedicated resources for protecting the content post-publication (copyright, licensing, and syndication) and maximizing its value (a structured valuation approach with strategic partnerships). In a fast-changing media landscape, not doing this could limit the monetization potential of your content after its first publication. Take the extra steps and you will be glad you did.

Bake into your company strategy an assessment of your content’s intellectual property value after its initial publication. Consider a committee or cross-functional team that can also proactively seek out partnerships. Content is valuable IP. It is king and its reign has long-lasting opportunities well beyond a company’s core products and services. It begs to be part of a larger business strategy. No new content creation; just the creative outreach to pair natural synergies like wine and cheese for additional profitable revenue streams. Your content’s credibility and integrity offer a plethora of additional uses, either whole or edited down. Such as material for event programming, training platforms, Artificial Intelligence & Large Language Models (LLMs), as well as tech apps and even retail with social media. Scenarios where a story or video can link two audiences with shared likes, enhancing the value proposition of both brands.

Protecting the Content

You can better protect your content with an updated Terms of Service document. Spell out what can be done and cannot be done. Outwardly display the intellectual property terms you wish to set forth. As seen in the headlines with the New York Times Suing Chat GPT and Microsoft for copyright infringement relating to artificial intelligence usage. The New York Times is crystal clear on this in their Terms of Service link. Which was updated on December 27, 2023, and to note the verbiage in paragraphs two and four. It calls out artificial intelligence and machine learning. This case is the beginning of more to come. Additional articles and commentaries to set new industry precedents with context for business leaders to factor into decision making. To draw to light another case with the NYT “New York Times Co. v. Tasini.” While this was a landmark Supreme Court case decided in 2001 that dealt with the issue of copyright in the context of electronic databases and freelance journalists, it is noteworthy in how it reinforced copyright protections relating to technology. 

Copyright and licensing can seem unclear, complex, thorny, and threatening, but consider leaning in. There are budding opportunities on the horizon with understanding these concepts and implementing appropriate strategies. And, it does not have to be hard. Revenue can be left on the table if product derivatives or partnership leads associated with your content are not folded into the larger publisher’s growth goals. Proactively align content licensing and develop a valuation model for each brand or channel, which can pivot to Licensing Partnerships.

Maximizing Value

In partnerships, there are the traditional Reprint Reproduction Rights organizations like the Copyright Clearance Center and Publishers’ Licensing Services, which you should update to include collective rights for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning if not already done. Then, companies that manage reprint rights for more expansive commercial use with Earned Media, such as EVG Media, PARS International Corp, Wright’s Media, and YGS Group. The company Statista can work with an organization to review proprietary data sets and create credible lists and rankings for recognition and award monetization. Then, there are the content aggregators, which are too many to name. They cover the gamut of General News, Business News, Scientific Research, Financial Markets, Gaming, and Travel.

Marketing and Education Technology Companies are also making growth headlines where your content can potentially supplement products in this industry space.  Credible authoritative content underscores commercially driven initiatives. Derivative media assets can have viral distribution through social media channels, not to be discounted. It will only expand with emerging artificial intelligence capabilities. It is a best practice to protect the content that you already paid to create. Be strategic and not leave it to chance. Establish an upper hand to negotiate. Encourage stakeholders in your organization to participate in content valuation models and scope out partnership potential. Document with a roadmap for these protections and additional revenue streams, tying in your intellectual property valuation with your overall company strategy.

These are interesting partnerships examples of how content value was maximized: 

  • Spotify
    • With Starbucks, a multi-faceted collaboration designed to enhance both brands and the customer experience. For Spotify content, its premium service was promoted in Starbucks stores, gaining exposure to a captive audience and providing content expansion with partner-curated playlists. Spotify users could also earn Starbucks Stars for listening to specific playlists or completing actions within the Spotify app.
    • With The Washington Post, to create exclusive audio content and partnered in creative distribution to monetize.
  • Gannett
    • With Jackpocket (the Lottery App) to integrate lottery content from across the USA TODAY Network.
  • The Atlantic
    • Instagram, a magazine known for its insightful journalism, partnered to turn their long-form articles into engaging Instagram Stories. Used key points and quotes from articles to create visually driven Stories with text overlays, graphics, and animations.
  • Bon Appétit
    • With YouTube, a food magazine created condensed versions of their popular recipe videos. Editing down longer recipe videos into quick and easy-to-follow Shorts showcasing key cooking steps and techniques.

These partnerships appear driven by the organization taking stock in the value of their content coupled with a firm handle on audiences and their overall “Reach.” Remember, content is king. Protect the Reign. Expand it where it makes sense. You invested in this content, so why not go the extra mile with a structured valuation and partnership approach? Roll up your sleeve to discuss how to elevate your brand beyond the initial content development and use. A page from the playbooks of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Do it in-house or consider a consultant.

Take a true deep dive into all areas for passive and creative revenue opportunities. Top of mind are the audiences you serve and where there are natural synergies to exploit and gain profitable returns for overall growth with copyright protections and partnerships. Proactively protect your IP and maximize its value in your overall business management. 

We would love to hear from you if you are a publisher and wish to write about a success story in this area. 

General takeaway thoughts:

  • Which of your media types lend to licensing and partnerships?
  • Would you create an in-house committee or hire a consultant to revise the Terms of Service and vet partnerships?
  • Assess the reach of your content and the potential for mutual benefit with partners.
  • Licensing valuation figures for pricing and value proposition in negotiations.
  • Creative integration, how partnership collaborations will enhance user experiences.

About Syndia Torres-Peña

Syndia Torres-Peña is the newest member of the Creative Licensing International team. She has extensive experience in publisher licensing programs and partnerships. Syndia is also an active member of the Legal Marketing Association and the Association for Talent Development.