Editor’s note: Rajendrani “Raj” Mukhopadhyay is the executive editor of C&EN BrandLab, C&EN Media Group’s custom content studio. C&EN is editorially independent from third-party advertisers and C&EN BrandLab.
At C&EN BrandLab, we live by two guiding principles:
First, a good story is a good story, branded or not. And second, everyone has a story to tell.
In May 2017, C&EN Media Group launched C&EN BrandLab. Our custom content studio develops sponsored content and brand strategies for advertisers who want to reach chemists in a new way: through compelling, scientifically accurate storytelling.
C&EN BrandLab’s editors and designers help pharmaceutical, chemical, instrumentation, and other companies highlight their products and missions in ways that interest C&EN readers. We use the same kind of innovative, narrative storytelling that readers of C&EN know and love. We create branded features, interactive graphics, and quizzes in addition to traditional custom publishing products, such as white papers and e-books.
From the start, we’ve focused on creating engaging content that resonates with a scientifically savvy audience. A good story is a good story, branded or not.
Yes, C&EN BrandLab must heed the needs of our clients, but we also must make sure C&EN readers value the piece. You can see this guiding principle in action in the “Chemistry of Delight” series that was sponsored by The Chemours Company.
For this series, we worked with our client to figure out how to best showcase the influences of chemistry and materials science on the leisure activities we indulge in, such as attending music festivals, watching a game of ice hockey, and cooking. In brainstorming sessions, we thought about how to use multimedia elements, images, and narrative to make each story a vibrant and thrilling reading experience both in print and online. And we spent hours in research and editing to make sure that the science in our storytelling was right.
How do we find our ideas for these stories? I’ll point you to our second guiding principle: everyone has a story to tell.
We help our clients find unusual or new story angles that will appeal to C&EN readers. For example, a C&EN BrandLab piece for HP’s printer division brought to light a story about how the division’s chemists overcame a long-standing challenge in latex-ink printing. Our conversations with a client’s scientists are crucial to finding and developing branded stories. That’s because these scientists can most accurately tell us about a product or service, how it was developed, how it gets used, and why customers care.
Our work to tell these stories with our clients is forward thinking in scientific media. The American Chemical Society is one of the first association publishers—and scientific publishers—to launch a full-fledged custom content studio that produces branded content, white papers, e-books, and more.
We’ve already attracted some high-profile clients, such as Patheon, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific; Lanxess North America; and Ashland. Our storytelling has won awards, and we’ve been short-listed for awards alongside the Economist, NBC, and other heavy hitters in mainstream advertising. We’ve taken the lead in showing how branded content can generate revenue while also helping science and technology companies better connect with their customers.
If you read C&EN, I’d love to hear what you think about our branded stories. You can contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your feedback. For more information on working with C&EN BrandLab, visit cenbrandlab.org.