For a Social Media Marketing podcast, Michael Stelzner interviewed Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, who reminds us that content marketing has been around for a long time. One of his favorite examples is The Furrow Magazine, published by the John Deere company as a resource and educational tool for farmers.
The company’s product, farm machinery, would do its owner no good if rodents ate all the seeds before they could be planted. Pest control and a thousand other subjects could be addressed in The Furrow for the benefit of agricultural entrepreneurs, helping them succeed, because then, they could afford even more John Deere products.
That kind of content marketing is a win-win proposition — something for everybody. Pulizzi says:
Companies create or curate valuable, compelling or relevant content on a consistent basis to do something, to maintain or change a behavior, and usually that’s to attract or retain a customer.
In content marketing, the job description is to create and curate. And educate. Many companies mistakenly focus their content marketing inwardly. They use blogs to tout the benefits of their products or their methods or their people or their performance. They want their content to attract prospects, friends, clients, investors, the media — yet they fail to produce content that appeals to these groups.
Newsblogging is different. By covering news in the industry, Newsblogs cultivate media contacts, prospects, friends, and investors. They are attached to every breaking story in the news, and build a reputation as a source of information in the field. That audience is kept close so that when the client has a major announcement about new capabilities or new products or new hires, there is an audience to hear it.
With a Newsblog, a real journalist is assigned a real beat and can stretch out. There is space to branch out and say things that won’t fit in a traditional ad. Analogies can be constructed. Mythology and psychology can be consulted. Comparisons can be made. Sometimes you want to engage in persuasive rhetoric that needs more nouns and verbs than the average bumper sticker can accommodate.
Newsblogging definition expands
In a subsequent podcast of Social Media Marketing, Lee Odden added the words “thoughtful” and “meaningful” to the definition of content marketing. The Marketing Blog editor also used the term “guide,” and noted that information should be tailored to the specific needs and goals of a certain audience.
By publishing a Newsblog, and sharing ideas and tidbits of information that are not specifically about you, you gain street cred. It shows that you are aware of what else is going on in the world, and of things that might be helpful or interesting to your present and future customers. It might involve calling attention to an excellent workshop or a book or whatever, produced by your “competition,” and may not result in an immediate ka-ching of your own personal cash register. That kind of altruism inspires trust and confidence.
On the practical side, newsblogging content can be repurposed. A string of blog posts can make a booklet or even a book, with copies printed up for distribution or sale to your customers. Jenny Lawson’s bestselling memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, is mostly a collection of her posts as The Blogess.
Newsblogging involves putting something out there five days a week for months and years. To many writers, the idea of such a commitment is scary. There are methods of record-keeping and organization and “staying out ahead of the project” that can help to curb what might seem like an overwhelming obligation. A certain amount of planning can maximize the number of deadlines met and minimize the stress.
An Expert and a Journalist
The ideal newsblogger must have the training of an expert combined with the curiosity of a journalist. Studies show that groups of experts often make worse predictions than groups that include lay people. It’s because those experts all have an incentive to skew the facts one way or another. An ideal newsblogger is one who is skilled at presenting evidence from a variety of sources, rather than advocating for any particular interpretation.
Some connections cannot be made by a search engine matching up keywords. Sometimes, you feel like a “synthesist,” as John Brunner described in his 1968 novel Stand on Zanzibar:
There were people, extremely top people, whom specialists tended to refer to disparagingly as dilettanti but who dignified themselves with the title ‘synthesist,’ and who spent their entire working lives doing nothing but making cross-references from one enclosed corner of research to another.
There was a time when we needed journalists to locate facts and interpret them for us. But today, everyone has access to “the facts” — eyewitness accounts, photos, videos, transcripts, satellite images, scientific research, etc. We don’t need journalists to find the facts. We can find them ourselves. That makes it possible for every organization to have their own news program, and be the creators of the news rather than its victims.
Note: Steve O’Keefe, co-founder of SixEstate, contributed to this article.
Image by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.