One of my speaking initiatives for 2008 was to branch out a bit from talking about email marketing exclusively, and to do some presentations around the overall changing media landscape, the social web, and my experiences around social marketing. As a result, I have developed a “working” presentation dubbed “From Inbox to iPod: Meshing Social Media into the Marketing Strategy.” I say working, because I have never given the exact same presentation twice. The landscape moves so quickly, things change, so I adapt the presentation usually on an almost “up until the time I get to the podium” basis. Sometimes, a thought will come to me right before starting my talk, and I will add a slide, a bullet, or an image to the deck. Its definitely one of the topics I have fun with, and it has been well received amongst the people who have seen it.
One of the key points that I make during the presentation is in regards to the concept of “Publishing is Marketing 2.0,” and I carry on the early mantra of “content is king,” no matter how many times we have heard it before, it has never been more relevant in its time than now. And it is this very point that presents one of the larger challenges for organizations to overcome, both now and into the future. That is one of the marketing department’s transformation into becoming a publishing organization.
Sure, its no mystery that marketers have always published information on behalf of their companies and organizations, but its the landscape that has changed, not the concept of publishing. It is the way that the content that we publish is consumed, the way that it moves around the social web, and is globally syndicated that is different. This landscape has also opened up other forms of content for organizations to produce, specifically you can now add audio and video content to the already rich mix of blog posts, articles, white papers, research and surveys, etc.. These are mediums that once had a very large barrier to entry and were commonly associated with heavy production budgets. Not anymore.
In keeping relevant to every reader, I want to address the common challenges that any size organization may face when making the transition to becoming a truly next generation marketing operation. When it comes to producing content in the “publishing is marketing” realm, I am talking specifically about an organization that is committed to producing a continuous flow of blog posts, white papers, research briefs, surveys, webinars, and audio & video (new media). These are some of the core published products that any organization taking advantage of the new media landscape will be producing on a regular basis. Each one serves a key role to the overall marketing mix, and each can be seamlessly promoted using the tools of the social web.
Hence the question, how do you create a publishing machine that stays not only on schedule but also stays aligned with your marketing objectives?
One of the first and foremost considerations is your talent. It really all begins with your team. You have to find out if you have people in your organization who want to be heard, who want a voice, who want to become industry thought leaders, and be known for subject matter expertise and experience? If so, then you are in a very good position, and it is your job to foster that drive into great content for your company, while at the same time developing thought leadership within your organization. To get the content machine going at full speed organically and from within, I believe this is a critical ingredient.
If you are not as lucky, or are a one person show, or a small startup, do the best you can. Think about the medium you are best with and use it to your advantage. Can you write well? Then blog. Can you or your colleague talk intelligently about your product, service or industry? Then hit the record button and publish a regular podcast. The barriers to entry are just too low not to be taking advantage of these mediums. The best advice I can offer to anyone though is to be consistent no matter what.
All that said, content is key. No matter what size organization you are, at the very minimum is the desire for your team to want to be heard and share their expertise with the world, but the content has to be the real deal to make it work. You have to give people the goods, or as they say “give them something to talk about,” because if it is good, they will talk about it.
You certainly don’t have to be the best out of the gate, and for many I realize this in and of itself is the true content challenge, but so long as you are not putting out garbage, and are timely and relevant with your content and have your audience in mind, just keep on striving to get better.
Just remember, this isn’t a game for being just the sizzle, you have to be the steak at the same time, almost all of the time.
No matter what size your organization is, you will find it challenging at first to organize your content creation processes, and even tougher to keep it on schedule when doing it to scale. Scale to me is publishing on a frequent basis, i.e. blog posts, podcasts, etc).
Publishing to scale merits the question of what to produce, and where to focus? Again, you can’t just be throwing out any old content. It makes a solid case for taking a hard look at just exactly what it is that we are producing as organizations. First, you need to ask yourself, how present, and how relevant are you within your industry? What are people saying about you or your brand? Is there a conversation happening?
First, listen to what is being said about your brand and your industry online. What is being said, who is saying it, how influential are they, what is your relation to them if any? Monitor and listen to the conversation. Then create your own marketing communications program around the conversation taking place, being relevant in as many ways as possible.
As more and more organizations become educated on the aspects of social media and begin to invest in the ways that they can engage their brand online, the eventual apparent need for any organization to produce good quality content will shine through. There is this need right now, and many companies are struggling to understand their role in the new media landscape.
Another scenario that I have seen lately is that there are those stuck on the other side of the equation, that of content excess and how to leverage all of it. These tend to be the larger organizations, with their dilemma being not one of content, but one of distribution and having a sound strategy to deploy the content in a meaningful and orchestrated way. To some of us this sounds like a luxury, and to many others it is a bear to manage such content flow in a meaningful way that also stays in line with the company’s marketing objectives, and generates results.
The Editorial Calendar:
After many years of envisioning a “publishing as marketing” organization in regards to my companyâ€™s marketing practices, only now are we just getting the company on rails from a publishing perspective, and we still have a way to go. After starting our blog, The Thinking Inbox, a few years back, and toying around with podcasting, and having gone through all of the challenges of infrequent posting, to zero posting, etc we are now beginning to hit our stride with buy in from all areas of the organization. Technology, account management, creative, sales and management are all blogging. This as you can imagine, is a good thing, and develops a broad range of topics that speak to the wide variety of readers who make up our audience.
One you achieve organizational buy in and active participation is in motion, your challenge then becomes the orchestration of the content. What is being produced, when will it publish, and what medium will it be published on, and most importantly, how do you control it?
We found that the development of an editorial calendar is becoming a key tool for us to be able to organize the content challenge within our organization. Although we are still working to get this implemented across the company, and make it a part of the content flow, conceptually we have buy in across the organization.
We moved in this direction at Blue Sky Factory once we began to frequently publish 2-3 blog posts on the same day, instead of spreading them out over time, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that everyone has something to say and wants to contribute, but we also need to maximize that knowledge and spread it out over time so that our blog publishing is consistent over the course of each week.
Now that there is an active editorial calendar that is shared company wide, we all have insight into what topics we want to focus on, and more importantly know when we need to publish. Almost everyone in the company now blogs, and writing / producing / contributing has officially become part of the culture at Blue Sky Factory. We have also begun to release a series of podcasts and viral videos to help get our message out.
I guess you can say that our content train has officially left the station.
In closing, I would like to repeat the key message that I outlined at the beginning of the post. The landscape has changed for marketers. In order to maximize the opportunity of amplifying your organizations signal in this shifting media landscape, you must think strategically about how publishing can help you achieve your goals and objectives.
Although challenging for any size organization, with some planning and organizational buy in, transforming into the â€œpublishing is marketingâ€ model is achievable for any company.
What do you think? Are you implementing a publishing is marketing model at your organization? Is it working? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
If you would like any additional info or thoughts around this post, feel free to email me directly at gcangialosi [at] gmail [dot] com, or leave a comment.
Thanks for reading.