It’s a New Day and Content is Still King

Once upon a time, public relations and traditional journalism served two distinct functions: PR promoted companies’ financials, brands, products and services, and journalists acted as gatekeepers, deciding what the public ought to know. In other words, “All the news that’s fit to print.” In the past two decades, of course, the media monopoly on news has cracked, if not been thoroughly broken. With the rise of self-publishing and digital distribution, the once distinct roles have blurred and the gatekeepers are now part of larger media ecosystem. Welcome to the era of dis-intermediated news.

But in this noisy, ephemeral marketplace where it’s more difficult than ever to engage an audience, one thing remains clear: Content is still king.

“To make your voice heard today, you must have something to say, and say it well. Digital audiences don’t necessarily care whether it comes from mainstream media, a blogger or a brand, and the result is a new and highly dis-intermediated competition to reach the public with news and ideas,” said Jack Martin, Global Chairman and CEO of H+K. According to Martin, three factors are driving this transformation.

The Branded Content Hub

As more leading corporations act as media, and in the process learn to think like journalists, there’s a new kind of news outlet entering the mix: the branded content hub. These owned sites, essentially digital magazines, often live at soft or un-branded urls—not on pages within a corporate site—thereby demonstrating a commitment to cover subjects and issues as an end in itself. Successful examples include Target’s A Bullseye View and GE’s multiple sites including GE Reports, each of which attract a large audience and drive conversation and engagement around topics as diverse as wind power and mac-n-cheese.

Authenticity + Transparency

By producing content—in the form of articles, blog posts, videos, infographics and more—companies and their PR and content agencies are now direct conduits to the public. The challenge is that traditional messaging and push-marketing just won’t cut it. Instead, if a company wishes to share news about its sustainability efforts, it is show not tell. McDonald’s, for example, used video storytelling to bring to life the work of Guatemalan coffee farmer Sandra Lopez. Similarly, Axe’s recent Find Your Magic campaign plays off mainstream conceptions of masculinity to hook its audiences. Success depends upon authenticity (a voice and style consumers respond to) and transparency (acknowledging corporate sponsorship of a site or piece) to ensure trust.

The New Ecosystem

To succeed, great content needs to be widely read, seen and shared, and that means it must find its way into the new media ecosystem. In practice, this requires promoting and syndicating branded content with traditional media and bloggers. In fact, one of the surest tests of the quality of branded content, or any content, is whether or not other sites are willing to put their reputations at risk by posting, sharing or linking to it.

For example, articles from Credit Suisse’s The Financialist, a site for high and ultra-high net worth investors, are regularly republished in Business Insider’s pages. Or take a campaign such as the “I Touch Myself” project. In order to raise awareness of the importance of early breast cancer detection, the project featured compelling storytelling and high-caliber execution. The Daily Mail, Huffington Post, The Guardian and other prominent news outlets responded, writing about it and posting, linking and sharing content. The result: significant amplification of the campaign across all media channels.

The branded content hub, authenticity and transparency, and the new ecosystem—the importance of these developments and trends is at the heart of the dis-intermediation that has put traditional media, bloggers and brands on much more equal footing. Yet in this new leveled playing field it is even more important to make certain you tell your stories and share your insights well, and that demands a true commitment to quality every step of the way. As companies and brands, the opportunity and responsibility is in our hands. We are all our own gatekeepers now.

by Magnify Team | February 16, 2016 | posted @

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