Is Marketing Morphing Into Editorial?

WRITERS. Are the lines between marketing and editorial becoming increasingly blurred? That’s what PR Newswire suggests in this YouTube video:

Content: Marketing Morphing into Editorial

Marketing Is Content Cover
The YouTube video is based on a white paper that PR Newswire developed for clients and prospects.

The video was developed in conjunction with the PR Newswire white paper: “Marketing Is Content.” It features marketing experts who contend that content-marketing has become so important that many marketing departments are building their own “editorial departments.”

These departments are being staffed by editors, journalists, and writers who know how to tell good stories. (In fact: The video’s narrator even admits: “Editors, it turns out, have a long history of synthesizing what audiences really want, and fashioning content that informs, excites, or entertains them.” )

One expert interviewed in the video is Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Instittue, who observes that now that marketing departments are establishing editorial teams, “There is no difference between what a marketer does and what a publisher does. The only difference is how they make money.” 

Sure, there is some truth to that statement. But it seems to me that today’s most successful publishers are staying ahead of the curve by ramping up both the quantity and quality of the content they produce. They are then using this content to further build their own brands.

In the video, the marketing executives define compelling content as “storytelling with a purpose.” And while I would agree that everyone has a good story to tell, it’s important to remember that marketers and publishers have different purposes for developing good content.

For example: Publishers need to retain loyal readers while constantly pulling in new readers. They can do so by aggregating content and information from a richer variety of sources. Publishers can produce stories that offer a broader, more balanced perspective from which readers can make good decisions.  Plus, publishers earn credibility by addressing consumer concerns that a marketer might prefer not to publicly acknowledge.  Maintaining credibility will become more important than ever as publishers strive to get more revenue directly from communities of readers.  

Right now, the editorial goal of marketers is to replace “interruptive messaging” with engaging content that will open two-way communications between companies and their customers. The reason marketers want to develop high-quality content is to help them strengthen their brands and generate leads.  

Some marketers understand the concept of content marketing better than others. Some companies just can’t seem to take their sales hat off no matter what. So they end up producing content that is just slightly less annoying than an infomercial.

The companies that “get it” seem to have figured out something that editors and journalists have been trying to tell pushy advertisers and PR people for years: “Back off! Readers get sick of being constantly sold to everywhere they look. Many people would actually love your company more if you would simply help them find answers to questions that aren’t being clearly explained anywhere else.”  

As professional writers and editors, we should be encouraged that marketers are starting to understand that deeloping quality content is not easy. First it involves listening to customers/readers to find out the type of information audiences really want, then committing the time, talent and resources needed to effectively deliver that information.  

We shouldn’t regard writing for traditional publishers as our only option for building an economically viable career. Sure, writing for magazines and publishing companies can be fun. But not if you find yourself working for a stuck-in-the-past publisher that believes the only way they can succeed is to compromise their editorial integrity by submitting to the ill-conceived whims of some advertisers.

In my opinion: the key to building a satisfying writing career is to pursue opportunities with those enlightened companies (publishers or marketers) who genuinely respect the brand value that talented journalists can help them create.

It’s not difficult to see which companies really get it, and which ones don’t. Just look at the type of content they publish!

LINKS

VIDEO: Content: Marketing Morphing Into Editorial

PR Newswire

RELATED POST

Editorial Excellence Can Help Marketers Escape Content Chaos

Are Designers Making the Most of Digital Textile Printing?

DESIGNERS. As I have watched digital-printing technology evolve to enable fabrics, wallcoverings, automobiles, and other surfaces to be custom-decorated, it always struck me that the printed examples shown in trade-show booths seemed a bit unimaginative.

It could have been due to time or budget limitations, but it’s more likely that the printing-equipment manufacturers first needed to demonstrate that the technology they were selling could replicate existing printing processes. So they simply used designs similar to what was currently being produced by designers experienced in textile or wallcovering design. Likewise, to show digitally printed T-shirts, the booth planners used designers whose work typically needed to conform with the limitations of screen-printing presses.

A recent post by Kristen Turner on the Ponoko blog indicates that I’m not the only person who feels that many designers haven’t yet caught up to everything that’s now possible in textile printing.

The post showcased some digitally printed silk and wool scarves from the spring/summer 2011 collection from Charlotte Linton and appeared under the headline:  “These Scarves Show What Digital Printing Is All About.”

Turner pointed out that “One of the greatest things about digital textile printing is that designs can have unlimited colors at the same cost as a single color. Yet designers using digital fabric printing still cling to flat designs with a few, flat colors.”

In her post, Kristen Turner highlighted Charlotte Linton designs that “have all of the life of hand-rendered illustrations and all the depth of photography,” including designs that looked like pages from a silk sketchbook. One Charlotte Linton scarf featured a polka-dot design of marsupial face photographs.

Image of colorfully printed scarf by Charlotte Linton
Digitally printed scarf designed by Charlotte Linton

The post attracted comments from Andy McDonald of the Centre for Advanced Textiles at the Glasgow School of Art who argued that “the greatest thing about digital textile printing lies in the ability to make an item only after it has been purchased, coupled with the potential for each item to be unique.”

McDonald also raised these questions: “What are the creative opportunities for designers once production shifts from just-in-time to on-demand? Why is digital textile printing not being explored in the same way as 3D printing?” Andy further commented, “The greatest thing about digital textile printing is that collections can have unlimited designs at the same cost as a single design. Yet designers using digital fabric printing still cling to fixed collections, with a few fixed designs.”

If you have come up with some fresh ideas for digitally printed textile designs, we would love to see them!

Note: Ponoko is an online service that enables creative people to turn their ideas into real things, and sell them to the world. More than 75,000 user-generated goods have been instantly priced online, made, and delivered from Ponoko’s digital factory network in Wellington, San Francisco, Berlin, Milan and London.  

LINKS

Ponoko

These Scarves Show What Digital Printing Is All About

Five Trends in E-Books

Tablet PC and booksWRITERS. The ongoing evolution of e-books may change how you think about the type of content you suggest when submitting a book proposal to publisher. For example, consider these five e-book trends that Philip Ruppel, the president of McGraw-Hill Professional, listed in a recent post on Mashable.com.

Enhanced E-books

“The e-book of the not-too-distant future will be much more than text,” writes Ruppel. “Interactivity has arrived, and will change the nature of the e-book.” For example, he says an e-book could contain a video showing how to fix a leaky faucet or pronounce foreign-language words as you read them. A novel could provide a platform in which the author can have a live exchange with reading groups.  Thus, in your book proposal, you might want to suggest creative ways to make the content more interactive.

An End to the Device War

Ruppel believes that consumer confusion will lead to quick consolidation around a few winners in the market for e-readers. He says consumers will care less about which device they use and more about the experience provided by the software, the portability of titles, and accessibility to a full catalog of titles.

E-books Costing More than $9.99

Although the $9.99 price for established bestsellers might have sparked initial consumer interest in e-books, expect future e-books with unique interactive features to cost more.

An Upsell for Value-added Extra Features

With enhanced e-books, publishers can interact with their customers in new ways. For example, clicking a help button will point readers to the publisher’s site where they can pay extra to download a tutorial about a specific point in the book they don’t fully understand.

An Expanded Role for Publishers

Producing a conventional technical or reference book requires a team of editors, copy editors, proofreaders, and designers. Producing digitally enhanced e-books will require even greater technical expertise.

In addition, Ruppel believes that with the skyrocketing amount of content being posted on the web, customers will seek out and pay expert content providers that can aggregate and contextualize information. As he puts it: “Commodity content is everywhere (and largely free), so high-quality, vetted, edited content—which takes a staff of experts—will be worth a premium.”

This last prediction, of course, should boost the morale of dedicated, professional freelance writers who have been dismayed by the flood of poorly researched, sloppily written content being churned out by low-paying content mills.  

Link:  5 E-Book Trends That Will Change the Future of Publishing

Four iPhone Photographers to Exhibit Work at Austin Gallery

PHOTOGRAPHERS. To celebrate the wide range of photography styles that can be created with different types of iPhone apps, the Studio2Gallery in Austin, Texas will exhibit the work of four i-Phone-ographers: Leon Alesi, Catherine McMillan, Carol Schiraldi, and Tina Weitz.  Entitled “Appa-ritions,” the exhibit will open Feb. 12 and run through March 5.

iPhone photo by CarolSchiraldi

The idea for the exhibit came about after four well-seasoned photographers started exploring the boundaries of iPhone photography and what types of art could be created using the iPhone camera and some of its apps.

Carol Schiraldi, the artist whose work is shown here, says, “My iPhone has put the fun of photography back into my hands.  It’s small, it’s sleek, it’s sexy.  It’s easy to operate and easy to get away with.  I love the joy of discovering new apps like Camera Bag, Plastic Bullet and Hipstamatic.  I love Shake It Polaroid and the fake Tilt-Shift app.”

She likes that the iPhone allows artistic vision to go from concept to finished product in a second or two: “No Photoshop, no darkroom, no chemicals, no expense of films and such, only that vision come to life…Never before has a camera allowed me to be so productive while freeing me from the shackles of being a technician.”

Tina Wirtz, who owns the Studio2Gallery says, “I began to use my iPhone camera to fill in for those moments I did not have my high tech equipment on hand.  As I continued to use the iPhone, a new love developed.  I discovered the apps. I had lamented the departing of Polaroid Time Zero film almost four years ago, but found the new joy of Shake It, a beautiful tribute to the contrast and color of Polaroid.  You even get the nostalgic click and whir.”

To read the artists’ statements of each four photographers and see more of their work, visit the Upcoming Events section of the Studio2Gallery website.

Conferences Examine Future of Graphic Communications and Cross-Media Publishing

DESIGNERS. In the 2008 book “Get a Design Job,” RitaSue Siegel suggests that you “Think about developing your skills in areas of practice that didn’t exist before, as they tend to attract the highest salaries until everyone catches up.”

One way to better understand future design opportunities is to go to the same conferences that potential employers attend. For example, two upcoming conferences in the fields of graphic communications and on-demand printing will examine what types of skills and workflows will be required to more easily and efficiently move content between print, online, and interactive projects.

While both conferences include some design-oriented sessions, that’s not the only way you can give your career a boost. The more you learn about your customers’ business goals and technical challenges, the more prepared you will be to position yourself as the type of problem-solver they need to hire.   

Graphics of the Americas (GOA)
Feb. 24-26, 2011
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL
www.goa2011.com

Companies that once specialized exclusively in printing now must offer a wider range of graphic-communications services that can help their customers deliver marketing messages across a broad mix of print and digital formats. To serve this new graphics-communication industry, the GOA conference features educational sessions that appeal to printing company executives, designers, and creative professionals.

For example, during the cre8 conference held in conjunction with the GOA conference, you can attend sessions that will help you update or expand your skills. You can learn how to:  

  • create interactive Flash and PDF documents with Adobe InDesign;
  • simplify the transition of print content to the web;
  • preflight all components of a mixed-media project to ensure that corporate branding is maintained in print, on the web, and in mobile messaging
  • use XML publishing with InDesign to create documents to be shared for print layouts, online, mobile devices, and e-readers
  • ensure your user-interface elements are attractive and easy to use.

The keynote address “Inspiring Digital Innovation” will be presented by John S. Bracken, director of digital media and director of the Knight News Challenge at the Knight Foundation. Bracken will share his views on the future of media and its role in society. Other sessions will discuss “The Digital Landscape for 2011 and Beyond” and “New Media Revenue Streams.”

On the trade-show floor, you can see various digital-printing technologies in action. You might even run into some forward-thinking graphics-business owners who can tell you more about the type of design skills they need most.

 

Publishing Xchange Conference
March 22-24
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC
www.publishingxchange.com

The great “e-blending” of digital content delivery through social media, ebooks, digital publications, media tablets, and new forms of printing is opening many exciting possibilities for traditional publishers, as well as corporate marketing groups that have begun acting like publishers. But this “cross-media” revolution is also creating noise and confusion.

Co-located with the Info 360 Conference and On-Demand Expo, the new Publishing Xchange Conference will strive to help publishers, marketing-communications content providers, ad agencies, commercial and in-plant printers, and graphic designers build a stronger roadmap to success. Seminar tracks include topics such as the state and future of publishing, cross-media marketing, and e-media technologies.   

One keynoter will be Rob Covey, senior vice president of content and design for the National Geographic Digital Media Group.  He will talk about how National Geographic has evolved to market exciting and engaging content across all media channels and share some of the challenges and opportunities associated with today’s new era of publishing.

In another keynote session, Charlie Corr of Mimeo will talk about The New Era of Printing and Publishing on Demand and some of the threats and opportunities that will impact everyone from publishers to printers to end users.   

Other workshops will talk about digital typography, how designing e-books and digital publications differs from designing for print, and digital advertising challenges such as wrangling pixels from print to mobile to billboards.

Expect to See More Artfully Designed Vehicle Wraps

Epson wrap on Bugatti Veyron autoDESIGNERS. If you were asked to design graphics to wrap one of the most expensive sports cars in the world would you put logos for Epson and SkinzWraps on the hood? Didn’t think so.

But that’s not the point. What’s interesting about this project is that it demonstrates that vehicle wraps aren’t just for posting advertising graphics on buses, trucks, and delivery vans anymore.  In the not-too-distant future, owners of luxury cars might hire designers to produce more artistic wraps to personalize their own prized vehicles.

At least that’s what the makers of printers and wrapping materials are suggesting. At the SEMA 2010 expo for sellers of automotive specialty performance products, Epson America, Avery, and Skinzwrap joined forces to design, print, and install this wrap on a Bugatti Veyron worth an estimated $1.7 million.

“Designing and applying a wrap to an automotive masterpiece like the Bugatti Veyron requires the ultimate degree of skill and concentration, the right material, and the best printing technology imaginable,” commented Peter Salaverry, CEO, Skinzwrap. This project was printed on Avery’s MPI Supercast 1005 media and output on an Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 printer. It took seven days to complete the design, print the wrap, and apply it to the car.

Most importantly, at the end of the show the car was transformed back to its original design.

Of course this isn’t the first time a high-end luxury car has been wrapped in custom graphics. In July, the seventeenth BMW Art Car, designed by artist Jeff Koons, took part in the 24 Hours of LeMans race. As part of his creative process, the Koons collected images of race cars, related graphics, vibrant colors, speed and explosions. The digitally printed graphics were designed to evoke power, motion, and bursting energy and give the car a dynamic appearance even when it’s standing still.

Jeff Koons designed the graphics for this 2010 BMW-GT2 Art Car ©BMW
Image of Koons BMW Art Car
The rear view of the 2010 BMW GT2 Art Car suggests a burst of speed. ©BMW

The BMW Art Car project started in 1975 when French racecar driver Hervé Poulain commissioned American artist and friend Alexander Calder to paint the first BMW Art Car.  Other BMW Art Cars have been designed by artists such as David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol and exhibited in the museums such as the Louvre, the Guggenheim Museums, the Shanghai Art Museum.

Another indication that custom-decorated vehicles might be gaining traction was Original Wraps’ launch of a new program that allows auto manufacturers, car dealers, and automotive retailers to offer an on-demand vehicle customization program.  Ford Motor Company offers the service through fordcustomgraphics.com. MINI USA offers the program through MINI Motoring Graphics.

So, yes! We’ve seen plenty of commercial vehicles customized with imaginative branding and advertising graphics. Now, let’s see what happens when more designers get involved in customizing personal-use vehicles.

Editorial Excellence Can Help Marketers Escape Content Chaos

Content Rules Book CoverWRITERS. A new book entitled “Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business” could ultimately open up some fresh opportunities for freelance writers and other creative professionals.

The book was written by two experts in content marketing:  Ann Handley, chief content officer of marketingprofs.com and C.C. Handley, founder of digitaldads.com.

The basic premise of “Content Rules” is that publishing useful content is a good way for companies to build relationships with their customers.  As the book’s promo copy explains, “Today, you have an unprecedented opportunity to create a treasury of free, easy-to-use, almost infinitely customizable content that tells the story of your product and your business, and positions you as an expert people will want to do business with.”

However, because so many companies are jumping on the content-publishing bandwagon, content is rapidly becoming a commodity.

As consumers, we can all see some of the “content chaos” arising from the wider adoption of content marketing. Sure, some of this content can be very helpful. But so much of it seems semi-coherent, superficial, and self-serving. Few companies seem to take the time to consider what type of content their customers would find most enlightening.

In a webinar introducing their book, Handley and Chapman describe the phenomenon this way: “Content marketing is like sex in high school: Everyone claims they are doing it, but few are doing it well.”

They believe content marketing is worth the commitment, noting that “Killer content can earn attention, create trust, establish credibility and authority, and convert visitors and browsers into buyers.”

The book reinforces a fact that many stressed-out, overworked marketing pros have just begun to fully recognize:  Producing a steady stream of consistently good content can be more difficult and time-consuming than it looks.

According to a recent survey cited by Handley and Chapman in Content Rules, the biggest content marketing challenges are:

  • Producing engaging content (36%)
  • Producing enough content (21%)
  • Budget to produce content (20%)
  • Lack of C-level buy-in (11%)
  • Producing a variety of content (9%)

Thus, experienced writers and other creative professionals can offer to alleviate some of the burden. But this tactic will only work if you can suggest how you can help advance the most commonly identified organizational goals for content marketing:

  • Brand awareness (78%)
  • Consumer retention/awareness (69%)
  • Lead generation (63%)
  • Website traffic (55%)
  • Thought leadership (52%)
  • Sales (51%)
  • Lead nurturing (37%)

You might want to read the book, so you can see the type of advice Handley and Chapman are giving to marketing pros.  For example, they discuss the art of storytelling and science to journalism to develop content that people will care about. They also talk about the need to find an authentic voice and create the type of bold content that prospects and customers will want to share with others.   Readers of Content Rules can learn how to:

  • Define content-strategy goals.
  • Get to the meat of the message by using practical, common-sense language.
  • Integrate searchable words without sounding contrived.
  • Create a publishing schedule for creating different kinds and types of content at once.

To see content-marketing at its best, check out marketingprofs.com and subscribe to their Marketing Profs Today daily newletters. Even if you’re not a marketing pro yourself, you can get some practical tips that can either help you market yourself as a creative pro, or better understand what marketing professionals are trying to accomplish with various forms of communications.

In the online Marketing Profs University, you can listen to the free webinar that Handley and Chapman presented on Dec. 3, 2010.

Content Rules: How to Create the Right Kind of Content

You can replay the broadcast, listen to a podcast, or download the webinar slides and a list of answers to questions raised after the webinar.

The book is available for $11.99 as a Google eBook. Or, you can order a 242-page hardcopy version from Wiley.com, Amazon.com, or BarnesandNoble.com

Links:

“Content Rules”: Google e-book format

Hardcopy book

Wiley.com

Amazon.com

BarnesandNoble.com