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Death to content marketing: Why you need a journalist, not a marketing writer.

Read these really smart ideas excerpted from Mitch Joel’s really smart blog. This is the right way to use a blog to build your business. (The full post is here.)

Death to content marketing.

The problem with content marketing is the marketing part of the equation. Marketing content rarely connects with an audience. Why? Because it’s really just marketing material that is thinly veiled as content, and it’s quickly becoming the kind of one-sided content that turns people off. What makes great content spread is how unique and inspiring the message is, not in how it slants into a direction that ultimately positions your company as the only one to buy from.

Flipping from content marketing to journalism.

I was thinking about this Blog. I was thinking about citizen journalism. I was watching Geoff Livingston present at Webcom Montreal last week, and things started to click. Maybe the reason this Blog has some level of success is because it’s more like journalism than it is about what Twist Image offers and sells (I prefer to write relevant articles about this industry). Maybe citizen journalists are the best marketers that a brand could ever ask for, and maybe, Livingston is right that the problem with content marketing is the “marketing” part. Instead of plopping Social Media into your communications or marketing department, why not start a journalism department (or start off in a more humble way by hiring a journalist part-time to write content that your organization will publish)?

What could a journalist do for your brand?

  • They could write articles about the industry you serve without slanting the piece to favor your brand (this would give you credibility and build trust).
  • They could become valuable by commenting and adding more content in the many other primary spaces for Social Media that people in your industry follow.
  • They could interview the industry leaders for you.
  • They could add a layer of credibility to the content you’re publishing, because you’re very clear in your disclosures that this journalist’s role is not to write favorable content about the company, but to write great content about the industry you serve.

We’re not talking about a journalist who is working for you as a writer.

That would be missing the point. The idea here is to start creating content that is both valuable and needed. The idea here is to see if a tactic like this could lead to an entire department of journalists that are publishing the most relevant and interesting stories about the industry you serve. It’s about becoming the de facto recognized authority for your industry. It’s about adding so much value that your clients (and potential clients) need you in their lives because the insights and information that you’re providing are so valuable. The challenge (of course) will be in doing this in an honest and credible way. Marketers don’t have a strong history of being able to pull this sort of stuff off, because we just can’t help ourselves but to push our own wares in the moment of truth (which is sad). The only way this will work is if the brand truly does let the journalist be an actual journalist (instead of a corporate shill).

I think this is a huge (and interesting) opportunity. What do you think? Is the world ready for real Brand Journalism?

Read Mitch’s full post here.

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  1. Jan July 3, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    YES! Creating consumer engagement is both an art and a science. Connecting brand message with the consumer where they are regardless of where it is….websites, TV, radio, blogging, Twitter, etc… And this is one tactic that could make a difference.

  2. Jana Quinn July 5, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    I love this idea, and not only for the reasons you list here: journalists know how to do their research. They know how to get to the point, cut the fluff, and draw out the most compelling pieces. Journalistic style lends itself very well to web writing in general, so it makes sense that it can be a valuable tool for business writing.

    Great post – thanks for bringing the matter forward in a concise (and dare I say “journalistic”?) manner.

  3. JR Moreau July 5, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    I think said journalists should also be knowledgeable in growing and maintaining a community around their content as well, or at least being able to delegate the curation of content and community discussion. In the age of social media, if content isn’t conversational or open to discussion it’s got no shelf-life.

  4. Loren July 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    I think the world used to be a lot more journalist friendly – and a lot better. Now there’s no line between news and entertainment. The bottom line is if what you have to say is relevant, interesting and important, it’s probably NOT the sales message you drew up in the board room.

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