Nowadays the digital world is providing traditional media with new opportunities to create cheap branded content. Time Inc has finally jumped on the bandwagon and created special platforms to co-operate with contributors.

The company apart from other products, like People, Fortune or InStyle, is creating two more projects: Springboard and Time Inc. Connect. They are going to help to source content by editors from contributors.


How did this trend start?

Even few years ago using the contributors’ labour for creating high-quality content was the priviledge of digital editions, like The Huffington Post or Bleacher Report. While the publishers of printed media suffered from reducing of circulation figures and, as a result, revenue, their colleagues from online editions have been enjoying the boom. It was caused by the inflow of audience attracted by branded or editorial contributor content.

However, nowadays the situation has changed and the largest publishing houses as Time Inc. and Condé Nast have followed the trend.

Regina Buckley, Time Inc.’s senior vp of digital business development thus comments on the situation: “Great content doesn’t just come from within our walls. We’ve found a way to tap into the best of [user-generated content] while still being very careful to own and curate our brands.”


First attempts of traditional media

When the first group of printed media started to use the materials of contributors, the output was mixed. For example, Travel+Leasure has raised its content by 7 times. However, the intentions of Entertainment Weekly’s The Community to attract 1,000 contributors have failed. Thus traditional media has not fully adapted to such activity.

TIme Inc. Contributors Network

What is Springboard?

Despite some reverses of its predecessors, the Time Inc. is developing co-operation with internet users to increase the amount of content. By means of Springboard the company is going not only to receive cheap materials, but also to expand the coverage of different events and topics.

First of all, the contributors are going to be examined according to the list of criteria. Editors will check their subject-matter experience and location. These demands will play a vital role, for example, in cases of festivals or other events, were it is important for contributors to be eyewitnesses.

To create high-quality content the company will need a wide range of specialists. Publications should contain text, photo and video materials. According to the words of Will Lee, Time Inc.’s group digital director for entertainment, sports and fashion, “They have to meet our editorial standards, which, at Time Inc. are very high.”

Influencer networks: Time Inc. Connect

For this kind of project the Time Inc. is looking for several teams of experts. They will develop materials both for title publishers and also advertisers. There will be three groups (or networks) focused on beauty, style and food. For each of them the company is going to hire 50-75 people. This strategy is supposed to adapt content according to the demands of advertisers. However, promotion agents sometimes treat skeptically such practice.

TIme Inc. Contributors Network
The requirements for all contributors are going to be high. Lee claimed that “There can be an inverse relationship between the absolute size of someone’s social following and the overall quality of their work. Our editors are better than anyone in the world at selecting editorial talent. They will apply the same rigor to selecting people for this.”
The concept of this project is complex, so it is not clear yet what company will manage its activity. at present there are two variants. It can function under Time Inc.’s editorial operations or inside The Foundry, the a sponsored-content unit founded in 2015. “Because it sits between editorial and advertising, we want to be very careful about where it sits,” said Lee.

In spite of the fact that some projects aimed to use contributor content have failed, the trend is flourishing on the media market. Moreover, the good organization is the first step to success in this field. Time Inc. has already done it.

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