May 202011

Recently I’ve seen an increase in discussion around companies and organizations producing their own content. I’m not talking about marketing collateral, but true editorial content that educates and entertains. Some call this sponsored content, curated content, or content marketing. In the end it’s the same thing — producing your own “news” and sharing directly with your audiences, bypassing the media filter.

Here are some good recent articles I’ve seen:

Shel Holtz on sees a big opportunity with more traditional media going behind a pay wall;

Mitch Joel at Six Pixels of Separation think big brands should have their own journalism departments;

Jonathan Potts calls it Brand Journalism and looks at what it could mean in academia.

I say Hallelujah to this increased awareness. For almost three years my agency has been proposing this to clients — thinking like a publisher in your specific area of expertise and building your own audience. Here in DC in the B2B and B2G spaces, we were a voice in the wilderness for a long time. No one else was telling this story. As this concept becomes more well known, hopefully the evangelizing will get easier.

In all our engagements we make sure the organization behind the site is well identified. Some clients get the need for objectivity and true content quality more than others. It’s often a cultural change as much as one of tactical execution.

Significantly, none of the authors I link to above talk about a very critical issue — the need to demonstrate the ROI of this content distribution. Every project in the private sector needs to justify it’s funding level. The Internet and social media provide the analytics to demonstrate how these efforts support the bottom line.

Back in early 2009 my partner Marc Hausman coined the phrase the “last mile” to describe the challenge of leveraging an engaged audience to support a client’s business objectives. The ways this can be done requires some experimentation, and also is driven by the particular niche and goals of the client.

As the traditional media continues to contract and social media channels proliferate, more and more companies need to start thinking like publishers. Many companies already know who they want to talk to — why not do it directly?

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