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