How Publishers Can Overcome the Content Marketing Paradox


What’s the distinction between content material created and printed by a model and content material printed by a devoted media group?

Increasingly, the reply is “there isn’t one” – no less than, not from the viewers’s viewpoint.

This is nice information for any model trying to achieve recognition as a trusted info supply by its content material advertising and marketing efforts.

But for media corporations, this flattening of the content material panorama has ushered in uncertainty round belief of their commerce and their potential to monetize their content material. Of course, publishers have alternatives to leverage their legacy of high-quality content material and viewers relationships so long as they adapt to shifting digital traits.

Recently, I spoke with Starmats Communications’ Christoph Trappe and Madison Michigan & Market’s Jeff Herrmann (who’re talking in the Publishers Forum at Content Marketing World in September) to get their perspective on what publishers and content material entrepreneurs can study from one another.

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Big adjustments in the publishing recreation

Many manufacturers have heeded the recommendation to behave like publishers on the subject of competing on the content material advertising and marketing stage. As a end result, publishers face elevated competitors for viewers consideration and promoting .

Now that anybody with an web connection and an concept has the energy to publish content material, all the world has really turn into a stage – one the place media corporations not ebook all the acts. This democratization of the content material panorama has ushered in a renaissance of creativity and enterprise alternative, but it surely additionally has made it more durable for any content material to attain its second in the highlight. 

Fortunately, publishers aren’t any strangers to the artwork of “pulling focus” and their deep bench storytellers provides them an edge on the subject of selling their choices.

Attracting eyeballs

One of the greatest benefits Christoph sees is that publishers come to the content material desk with an enormous, ready-built, and related viewers in a distinct segment: “Sure, companies have audiences, prospects, and customers, too, but the relationship between publishers and audience is different. It’s usually a true journalist-to-reader relationship. When content marketing in publishing is done well, this can be a huge benefit,” he says.

Media publishers come to the #content material desk with enormous, ready-built and related viewers, says @CTrappe. Click To Tweet

Example: What does it take for publishers to do content material effectively in the face of more and more fragmented viewers consideration? Consider The Weather Channel’s modern strategy to rising with the tech tides and staying firmly on its viewers’ (Doppler) radar.

Long trusted as the go-to supply for native forecasts in addition to reside nationwide protection of pure disasters, the cable media mainstay enhances content material engagement in its area of interest with some stunningly immersive AI graphic results that carry its viewers into the eye of the storm. They’re coupled with skilled recommendation that viewers would possibly want in a climate emergency. Clips from these segments have been shared on YouTube and TWC’s social channels, bringing higher prominence to its broad content material platform and giving its viewers extra causes to tune in than simply to test whether or not they should carry their umbrellas to work.

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Trust falls and fails

Media corporations have lately come beneath fireplace for his or her lax practices round viewers information privateness (together with large hacking scandals suffered by Yahoo, Facebook, Quora, The Washington Post, and numerous others). These privateness considerations led (partly) to the implementation of 2018’s strict GDPR rules all through the European Union.

Another supply of belief points between publishers and their audiences is the perceived failure of policing the accuracy of their content material ­– consider the often-misplaced accusation that respectable information retailers are purveyors of “fake news.”

Perhaps the greatest approach for publishers to rehab their reputations is to double down on accuracy and educate readers on the right way to distinguish the reality from purpose-driven rhetoric.

TIP: To counteract the unhealthy rep the U.S. press has been getting of late, The Washington Post is educating its viewers on the right way to inform reality from politically motivated fiction with a politics-related Fact Checker function, which features a searchable database and a weekly e-newsletter.

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Money pit

The unending drive to share reliable, unimpeachably correct information content material at scale is effectively worn territory for outdated media mainstays like The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, or The New York Times. But there are obstacles to success that legacy journalists and new media publishers alike are discovering themselves a lot much less geared up to beat.

Chief amongst them is the right way to keep afloat financially at a time when audiences have turn into accustomed to accessing all the info they need – typically totally free – with just a few fast keystrokes on Google.

Digital publishers who as soon as relied on paywalls and subscriber charges are realizing that these income sources solely take them thus far in holding the presses (digital or in any other case) operating profitably.

Native promoting

Fixing years of overdependence on a declining income mannequin isn’t straightforward. Pursuing a brand new approach ahead takes a concerted, ongoing effort from events on each side of the change.

But till a magic bullet for income era seems, many publishers are turning to native promoting methods – the place adverts intently match the kind, really feel, perform, and high quality of the content material of the media platform.

Many publishers use #nativeadvertising methods for income (which helps content material entrepreneurs), says @joderama. Click To Tweet

This hybrid strategy presents publishers a much-needed income lifeline, whereas providing manufacturers entry to the writer’s viewers and an affiliation with its status. Native promoting presents a excessive diploma of inventive flexibility, enabling publishers to offer a wealthy, partaking advert expertise extra akin to their editorial choices than different types of promoting. And, as a result of publishers can typically provide these placements by self-service instruments, campaigns might be developed, launched, and optimized rapidly and cheaply – engaging manufacturers which will have been locked out of pricier advert placements.

Example: Aspiring to attach with the lives of highschool college students contemplating their faculty choices, Washington College partnered with youth-friendly media web site BuzzFeed on a collection of native posts targeted on the theme You’ll Love This Place. The matters spanned from life on Chesapeake Bay to unimaginable experiences as a freshman. The native adverts had been distributed throughout BuzzFeed’s web site and multichannel social media properties, giving the posts large attain, straightforward shareability, and cell accessibility.

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Value-added providers

Another income choice comes from what publishers do greatest: delivering distinctive worth to the audiences they’ve meticulously constructed round area of interest pursuits. CMI’s Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi have characterised this strategy as creating media that’s “so good that it pays for itself.”

This is a purpose that publishers are effectively positioned to attain, given their strengths at constructing owned media platforms with a distinct segment focus.

Example: Meredith Corporation’s celebrity-focused Entertainment Weekly model is planning to roll out a paid subscription-based Entertainment Wine Club, by which its editorial crew curates a number of wines to pair with their favourite TV exhibits. The effort serves a twin goal: It fosters a deeper sense of (branded) neighborhood amongst popular culture followers who wish to make an occasion out of viewing their favourite exhibits, and it provides a brand new income stream for Meredith Corp. (and its wine-company promoting companions).

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Dedicated content material studios

An alternate strategy is to develop editorial-quality property for customized branded content material campaigns – publishers present enhanced providers to their promoting purchasers and generate extra income with out compromising the high quality requirements that audiences count on from their model.

It’s a mannequin that publishers like The New York Times are committing to (by its T Brand Studio arm). As a main instance, think about the Orange is the New Black co-branded content material marketing campaign that StoryFuel founder Melanie Deziel created throughout her NYT tenure. It stands by itself as a well-written and well-researched multimedia content material piece that the Times might have run on considered one of its editorial pages. And though some NYT workers had initially been cautious of crossing the church-and-state divide between editorial and promoting, the multimedia effort in the end made it onto the NYT.com’s most-emailed listing – and even earned excessive reward from famous then-Times columnist David Carr in a tweet:

However, a studio-driven strategy like this will include distinctive inventive and budgetary challenges for some publishers, significantly those that can’t unencumber sufficient editorial crew sources to execute on these sorts of campaigns.

“Writers dedicated to custom content often don’t have the same voice and institutional knowledge (as the main editorial staff), which can make the program weaker than it should be. Though they are in the best position to scale, they can lack the visibility of recurring revenue to give them confidence to pull the trigger,” Jeff says.

Still, media corporations up for this problem can take inspiration from efforts like the marketing campaign HBO rolled out (in partnership with AT&T), which constructed an unique content material expertise round the pleasure of Game of Thrones’ closing season:

And the Los Angeles Times went all-in on the idea to drive attendance for its annual Festival of Books. The writer created an immersive, multiplatform content material expertise referred to as Newstory to advertise inventive storytelling that goes past books. It featured VR video games, podcasts, TV present screenings, and reside performances, plus a Newstory Playground of sponsored activations and displays.

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What publishers can study from advertising and marketing

No matter how publishers resolve to maneuver ahead, they should keep some measure of flexibility – each strategically and operationally. It’s turn into more and more important that each asset might be tailored for a number of codecs and functions and that it’s straightforward to share throughout a number of media channels.

To accomplish this, publishers would possibly do effectively to take a few of their cues from entrepreneurs who’re extra accustomed to working beneath a campaign-focused mentality – an atmosphere the place the want to modify gears is frequent.

Publishers would possibly do effectively to take cues from entrepreneurs who’ve a campaign-focused mentality, says @joderama. Click To Tweet

Learn to jot down backwards

Publishers have to be cognizant of how their strategic targets and distribution plans would possibly affect different elements of their content material advertising and marketing initiatives – beginning with writing course of. For instance, publishers who lower their enamel on writing for print may need to flip the script when producing content material for a multimedia world. To this level, Christoph suggests, “Potentially the easiest way to get around that is to write for web first and then repurpose in print.”

Have a plan for repurposing your content material

Another space the place publishers fall brief is effectively repurposing present content material property. “Too many content creators (in the publishing space) stay in their own lanes and are not effectively converting print pieces to digital and vice versa,” Jeff says.

One common approach which may assist publishers hold their content material channels flowing with related content material is the COPE methodology – Create Once, Publish Everywhere.

As Stephanie Reid-Simmons explains, quite than construct each asset from scratch, plan upfront to repurpose, reconstruct, and reposition your greatest content material concepts to get the most out of them.

Repurpose your greatest #content material concepts in varied methods to get the most out of them says @betterlater through @joderama. Click To Tweet

When managed thoughtfully, COPE can allow publishers and entrepreneurs to fulfill their viewers’s more and more voracious urge for food for high quality content material with out overstraining their crew’s sources to the level of a breakdown (nervous, operational, or in any other case).

Bring higher focus to your search engine optimisation technique

Jeff additionally recommends that publishers enhance their potential for content material advertising and marketing success by specializing in search. “News organizations are so focused on cranking out fresh stories, yet they often lack foundation pages and an SEO strategy to maximize exposure for that topic,” he says. To deal with this, Jeff recommends embracing a deliberate search engine optimisation technique. “Get focused on the topics you want to dominate, build a foundation page, and be religious about driving traffic back to that page,” he advises.

News orgs are too targeted on recent tales & fail to create basis pages or search engine optimisation technique, says @JeffLHerrmann. Click To Tweet

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Publishers: Go forth and rewrite your future

Flashy, multiplatform experiences, meticulously mapped distribution methods, and rising enterprise fashions actually assist give an edge to publishers partaking immediately’s extremely distracted and discerning customers. Ultimately, although, the method for content material advertising and marketing success might boil right down to publishers doing what they’ve at all times achieved very effectively: delivering the priceless info your audiences are in search of.

As Christoph says, “It’s really as simple as writing and producing content that people want to consume. The numbers will tell you what content that is.”

If you’re a writer in search of extra recommendation on the right way to deal with your large challenges, why not register to hitch Christoph and Jeff at their Publishing Forum at Content Marketing World Sept. 6?

Cover picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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