Content Marketing, Branded Journalism, Corporate Journalism.
Content has come along way and, I think, has a long road in front of it. With more and more corporate entities identifying content as one aspect of a marketing or PR campaign, the rise of branded journalism will continue unabated. Many might decry the rise of corporate entities even thinking of using the word “journalism” in their style of content creation, but as this piece of branded journalism states, the content must still stand up. Regardless of whether you’re an artisan sock maker or a Fortune 500 company, your content will be scrutinised (OK, probably more so if you’re a Fortune 500 company due to your sphere of influence and traffic). If any form of content comes across as advertising or even a soft-sell (which pretty much contravenes what content marketing is all about), your audience will switch off and never return. In this era, readers don’t want to be sold to, and definitely don’t want to feel like their being influenced.
In a recent piece of Branded Journalism, writing for the SMH’s Brand Discover/Outbrain, Leo D’Angelo Fisher states in A cultural challenge: marketers as content gurus:
Content marketing, especially in the form of corporate journalism, is a disruptor. The very idea that a non-media corporation can be the publisher of valuable and sought-after news, opinion and information is seen by traditional journalists as a threat, an interloper, a trespasser onto the hallowed turf of “quality journalism”.
But it is not just journalists who feel threatened, even intimidated, by the concept of providing target audiences with a branded, but not brand-focused, information source.
Marketing, public relations and communications professionals are not always quick to embrace content marketing; and some of those who appear to may not necessarily fully grasp its essentials.
Their time-honoured discipline is to overtly promote the company, its brand, its products and services and its people. Whether it’s the design of a website, the crafting of marketing materials, the writing of press releases, the production of client magazines and corporate videos – what they all have in common is the unambiguous purpose of direct and sometimes heavy-handed promotion.
A marketing executive who places herself as ‘publisher’ or ‘editor-in-chief’ must be prepared to make judgments along quite different lines to managing the production of an annual report or media release.
Content marketing doesn’t replace these disciplines; it becomes part of the strategic mix. (emphasis added)
This passage of text is what caught my eye. It’s clear journalists (especially with constant threats to editorial newsrooms) may feel threatened by the rise of content marketing and branded journalism, especially when faced with staff cuts and what seems like almost continual threats to editorial budgets. But Marketing and PR professionals?
Perhaps traditional PR practitioners may feel threatened by the rise of Content Marketing, however, I’m in agreement with D’Angelo Fisher in identifying that content marketing is an integral aspect of strategic communications. In the digital/Web 2.0 age, where everybody is a “prosumer” – a producer and consumer of content, organisations would be mad not to include content marketing as part of their overall communications strategy. Yes it should align with PR and marketing and even to an extent the advertising and sales department. There are a myriad of ways in which content can complement a wider PR strategy and, speaking from experience clients are very keen to become publishers themselves in order to share their insight and position themselves above competitors.
Content Marketing should feel more than at home sitting amongst the PR and Marketing departments, so much so it should be warmly welcomed for a cosy Sunday night on the family lounge.