Why Outsourcing a Blog Might Be Smart

This headline, sent to me by a colleague, appeared in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal: “Should You Outsource Your Company Blog?” Like most questions addressed in communications, marketing and other similar fields, the answer is — Maybe. It depends.


1. If the company doesn’t have a communications or a marketing department, maybe you should.
2. If the company doesn’t have an executive spokesperson with the time, maybe you should.
3. If the company’s Legal and/or HR departments need to approve outgoing comments, maybe you should, but only if those departments get out of the way. Otherwise, don’t do a blog.
Or maybe not. And here are the arguments, as I understand them, against outsourcing the company blog. The point of blogging is:
1. Having an authentic voice.
2. Giving customers a personal connection to the company.
3. Ghostwriters do neither.
Well, pardon me, but who do you think writes executive speeches, letters from the CEO, and all those personal words to shareholders one finds in the Annual Report, and web site content, and most of the pithy executive quotes found in newspapers? Guys and gals such as me. I also write and manage several company blogs, who are my clients. As the period on the sentence, none of those things are done without interviewing executives and employees, studying the company and its customers, and, finally, getting approval from the company spokesperson for everything I write.
Would it be better if someone from the company wrote the blog? Maybe, maybe not. When work is outsourced, the consultants often have more influence over the executives and more freedom from message management. And if we’re fired, we haven’t lost our jobs, just a job. We don’t have the pressure of saying what we think the company wants to hear, at least many of us don’t. More important, key inhouse staff are focusing on their other jobs and responsibilities, while gaining the outsider points of view and expertise, which are then translated into blog posts.
So, there you have it. One consultant’s take on outsourcing blogging. Not right. Not wrong. It just depends.

The Art of Blog Marketing

This is a story about building relationships online through blogging and how connecting and sharing is about the art of marketing. For this post, we will leave science aside, except for the technology required to blog.


Over Memorial Day weekend, a group of us met in NYC to honor CK and her recently passed momma, Sandra J. Kerley, with a tree planted in a corner of a Spanish Harlem family garden. The spot is a haven of green among the concrete, brick, glass and steel setting. Five of us gathered with CK, but many participated in the celebration through their generous donations. Some who could not join us called to speak with CK.
In the group were Drew McLellan,
David Reich,
Luc Debaisieux,
Valeria Maltoni, and me. Drew and his family flew in from Des Moines, David drove from the ‘burbs, Luc came all the way from Belgium, Valeria trained from Philadelphia and I took the commuter line from New Haven. If you want to read more about the event, each of us posted or you can click here to read my post and see the photos.
The gathering made me think about what brought us and so many of you together. The tool was blogging but the strategy that connects us is that of relationship building. Each of us believes that life and the part of it we call business require the art of connection to grow. Anyone can blog. It doesn’t require either great technical or writing skill to do so. But among the bloggers who I have met in-person and online, a sense of sharing, connecting and getting to know others is inherent within us. And that is a basic principle in marketing.
At the end of the day, marketing is not about products, services, technology, advertising, public relations, or traditional tools. It is about creating connections, what some of us may call experiences. Successful marketing gives people a reason to care about us. In business we may call the “us” our brand. That is also true in life.
Why did we gather in New York City, a group of strangers, some of whom had previously met, others who had never met face-to-face? We cared about each other. We had connected. We wanted to be part of the brand experience (honoring CK and becoming friends). This may seem a strange analogy. To some it may seem a bad and heartless analogy, as we are talking about a friend’s loss. But to clarify, I am talking about love for a friend and caring for her. I am talking about what we gained through CK’s loss.
And that’s what customers feel about brands that they are loyal to: Harley-Davidson, Starbucks, Apple, VW, Coke or Pepsi. Those companies have connected with their customers. They share their human sides, build relationships, and become friends to and with their customers.
They do so by telling stories and touching our emotional sides with those stories. The 40-something accountant who loves the rumble of a Harley. The 30-something mom who cherishes her escape to Starbucks Third Place Experience. The Mac lovers who hold onto their minority but special status.
These things don’t just happen. They happen because of the art of marketing. That same art applied to our personal lives and our businesses is producing enduring relationships, more sharing opportunities by writing for other blogs such as the Daily Fix, and work opportunities. All because of relationship building. Like me, I suspect most of you have a similar story.

Can Blogging Work as a Marketing Tool?

Yes, it can. My two most recent clients hired me because of what they read on my blog and at my Web site. That is significant because for marketing to be accepted and effective, it must result in sales. I know some disagree, and that’s one of the great things about this medium. It is interactive, immediate, and informal… key ingredients to good communications.


When I first started blogging nearly a year ago (my first anniversary is June 13), one of my goals was to use my site the same as I use all my outlets for writing–as a way to brand myself and my business. But to be successful, my branding efforts must lead to work. Newspaper and magazine articles, as well as TV and radio guest appearances and my books have always done that. I saw no reason why blogging shouldn’t be able to build my brand image, market my business philosophy and values, offer lot of free content for my readers, and lead to work. It has.
The point I want to make is that blogging does not need to be sold only as a way to have a conversation with your readers, customers and clients. While that is a good thing in and of itself, I don’t believe it is the right argument to make when we offer blogging (or any of the social media tools) to our business clients.
The primary purpose of a business is sales. And every marketing tool should support that purpose. I now have proof that blogging does, when done correctly and when our posts serve our reader’s wants and needs, the basic foundation of all marketing and branding efforts.
Here is my challenge to you: If you believe that blogging is an effective marketing tool, pretend that we are potential customers and clients and give us your best pitch. If you don’t believe that this medium can be an effective marketing tool, tell us why.

10 Tips for Keeping Your Blog Fresh

Even the best bread goes stale in a few days. After a year of blogging and sharing marketing ideas, is it possible bloggers go stale, as well? I think the answer is yes. But does that mean we should shut the doors on our blogs and fade quietly into the background?


I think not. There is hope for refreshing and reinvigorating our posts to keep our readers interested, and I don’t believe it includes writing less.
Here are some of my thoughts. What are yours?
1. If you haven’t already done so, create a plan with measurable goals. Doing so will keep you focused and consistent, helping your readers understand what matters to you. If you don’t know wwhy you blog and where you are going, how can your readers follow your journey. And if you aren’t tracking goals, how do you know the impact of your blog.
2. Search the news and business wires for today’s hot business topics.
3. Cover those topics using a slightly different angle and ask questions for your readers to think about and reply to if they wish.
4. Write shorter. Most of us don’t have time to read a long treatise on any subject.
5. Inject your opinion but not so strongly that your readers feel no room exists for their thoughts.
6. Write the way you talk. Write simply. Save the big words for your great American novel. No one wants us to prove how smart we are. The writing shapes the ideas, not our vocabulary.
7. Keep to the subjects promised in your masthead and “About You” page. If you are a marketing blog, mostly stick to that subject. Readers seek familiarity when they visit.
8. Throw in a fun post once a week, such as interesting tidbits about others or music or books or TV or movies. Make it a regular feature so your reader’s expectations are met.
9. Occasionally, be provocative, which is a great way to get readers involved in big ideas. Be sure the subject is big enough to handle provocation.
10. Use names, pictures and stories of other bloggers. We like to see our names in print.
Finally, write for readers, not links. When we write for readers, we create words and ideas that are authentic, heart-felt, credible and worth reading. Readers are the audience, and in writing for our audience, the links will come. Going back to my first professional writing job, my editor told me repeatedly to write for readers, not for myself. All of my subsequent editors ensured that I remembered that lesson.
Your turn. Agree or disagree, share your secrets and ideas. How do you keep your readers coming back? What works and what doesn’t?

Brand and Branding

Who owns your brand?

I don’t mean this in a “does you consumer now control the brand?” kind of way. I mean it in a, “where do people go to connect with your brand?” kind of way. I was flipping through an in-flight magazine yesterday and noticed a two-page spread for a diaper company. There was a massive call to action in the bottom right-hand corner of the print ad that said something like: “to lean more, please follow us on Facebook.” I found myself asking a very simple question: “what is this brand of diapers doing on Facebook that is so unique to the brand experience that it can’t be done on their own website?” The answer (after a quick review) is nothing. This brand’s Facebook page isn’t doing much to leverage the power of the social graph or use Facebook’s functionality to extend the brand narrative in a unique way. They’re just using Facebook as a place to have a less-interactive and less-branded website.

Why is it less-branded?

What’s better: one clear message or five messages on the same page? When you have you own website, you control the amount of messaging and the engagement. When you have your brand page on Facebook (and I’m using Facebook as a euphemism for any online social network, be it Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn or whatever), your brand is housed within the Facebook branded experience and there could be ancillary brands (or advertisements, whatever) in the mix as well.

The tough question.

Brands have to start asking themselves one very tough question: are we on Facebook because it makes our brand experience better and leverages the power of these millions of connected people, or are we on Facebook, because there are a lot of people there and we have been unable to garner that level of attention with our own digital experiences and spaces? Facebook isn’t bad. Facebook is great. But, Facebook is only great to the brands that people care about, and it’s only great when those brands are already connected to their consumers and leverage the Facebook experience to do a whole lot more.

Brands are getting lazy.

It’s not just brands, it’s also the agencies that serve them. With each and every passing day, I’m seeing more and more brands forgo their own web and mobile experiences to use social media environments as their primary place to connect. Years ago, I cautioned against this. It became a more prescient concept when MySpace collapsed as Facebook began to gain its momentum. At the time, I had many of my musician friends suddenly lose their entire audience. Back then, it was much easier to build and update a MySpace page than it was to build and nurture a unique website. The problem is that when everyone started bailing on MySpace, the bands were left with little community. On top of that, they had no way to take the sweat equity (content, connections and more) to another platform. They didn’t own it. MySpace did. When MySpace changed their rules, the bands were affected but couldn’t do much about it. Same with Facebook: it’s their playground and they can take their ball and go home whenever they want.

Today.

Today, more and more brands are doing the exact same thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, Google + or whatever. They’re allowing their brands to not only play second fiddle within the compounds of these online social networks, but they’re selling their brands short with the shiny, bright objects du jour instead of looking out on to the horizon. Why is this such a big deal? We’re seeing our world become more and more mobile. Facebook, Google and everyone else have yet to demonstrate how they’re going to take their current connections of users and migrate them over to a mobile platform that is just as engaging and compelling as what we’re seeing in the current browser-based format. What makes any brand (and agency) think that they’re going to get this right? Immediately, any brand can create a new website in HTML5 and leverage responsive technology to develop a platform that is – at the very least – manageable across all devices and screens. At the same time, these same brands can spend as much time and money as they wish creating a better brand narrative – without the restrictions and limitations set out by any other digital media company.

Fear is the mindkiller.

It’s just easier to play in someone else’s sandbox, isn’t it? Fear is holding everyone back. Unlimited creativity and opportunity is holding these brands back. It’s a shame. A brand that can provide a true experience and extend that brand narrative by providing utility and being there – wherever – the consumer is, will be the winning brands of the near-future. If consumers want to shop the brand wherever and whenever they want, but these brands are locking themselves in to other channels and platforms, they’re missing the biggest opportunity that social technology has brought: the ability to create a powerful and direct relationship with a consumer.

The 5 Minute Guide To Cheap Startup Advertising

The following is a guest post by Rob Walling. Rob Walling has been an entrepreneur for most of his life and is author of the book Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup. He also authors the top 20 startup blogSoftware By Rob, that’s read by tens of thousands of startup entrepreneurs every month and he owns the leading ASP.NET invoicing software on the market in addition to a handful of profitable web properties.

Imagine that you’ve just completed version 1 of your product and you’re preparing for launch. You’ve greased the wheels with a few bloggers, targeted some keywords with SEO, created a bit of linkbait, and scheduled the press release to launch in the morning. At this point your co-founder turns to you and says: “What are we going to do with the $300 we have stashed away for advertising?” Consider this your lucky day. The goal of this article is to provide you with the core of what you need to know about cheap startup advertising as quickly as possible, so you can start spending that ad budget wisely. Let’s get started.

Two Key Advertising Strategies

The half-life of advertising traffic is zero. This means that the moment you stop shelling out cash, the traffic stops. The problem is that with typical conversion rates of 1-2% you’re paying for 98 or 99 out of every 100 people to walk away and never come back to your site. To combat this inherent wastefulness of advertising, I have two key strategies I recommend no matter which method of advertising you use.

Strategy #1: Try to Get Permission

Seriously consider offering something in exchange for a visitor’s email address. It can be a free trial, a free report, or maybe even a free book. But gaining the means and permission to contact that customer again will increase your conversion rate over time in most cases. There is great power in an email list.

Strategy #2: Use Advertising to Test

Use advertising as a testing tool rather than a long-term stream of customers. Very few startups can withstand the cash outlay required to turn advertising into a marketing activity with positive ROI. Even if you figure it out, advertising is a volatile marketing medium. Prices increase rapidly in online advertising as new competition crops up or prospects grow bored of your ad and your click through rate drops. When this happens, all of the time you invested in optimizing your ad campaign is *poof*…gone. So instead of relying on ad traffic as an ongoing stream, use it for what it’s best at: the ability to generate a slew of visitors very quickly, and to be turned off just as quickly. This kind of traffic source makes it great for split testing and user behavior testing using tools like Clicktale and Crazyegg. It also gives you insight into how certain traffic converts for you. With properly tracked conversions and an ad on Facebook, you can determine that men from 35-45 convert at a rate 15% lower than women of the same age. This is valuable information, especially early in your marketing effort when you’re still trying to figure out the ideal market for your application. Often this is not the largest market; it’s the one to whom you can market for the lowest cost. As another example, with AdWords you can learn in a hurry which keywords convert for you, and which don’t. This is insanely valuable as you invest the time and money on the long-haul of search engine optimization. Knowing the keywords that really convertfor your business, as opposed to the ones that you think will convert, can save you piles of cash and many months of SEO effort.

The "First Five" Advertising Options

With the above strategies in mind, let’s look at the first five advertising options you should consider.

Option #1: Niche Advertising

As a startup, there are hundreds of general advertising options available, and thousands more niche opportunities. Depending on the niche you’re catering to you should be able to find a forum, blog, magazine or website in which to spend some ad dollars. The tighter the niche the better. Remember that niche sites tend to be cheaper to advertise on and drive more targeted traffic, which makes a huge difference in your conversion rate. (And if you’re not targeting a niche because you want your audience to be the "whole world," you’re going to need a lot more than $300 in your ad budget). In general, if you are marketing to a niche you will know the sites to target. If you don’t it’s time to pound the pavement and find out what they are. By "pound the pavement" I mean search on Google and contact people in the niche to find out where they hang out online. Two reputable niche ad networks I’ve worked with in the past are:

  • InfluAds – With an increasing number of advertising "communities" covering design & UX, startups and entrepreneurs, work & productivity and web development, InfluAds can work with budgets as small as the $300-400 range. They sell a minimum set of granted impressions, and if more traffic is available during a month then existing advertisers receive it for free. Image ads only.
  • BuySellAds – Though they’ve traditionally focused on the design & UX space, BuySellAds is in the process of branching into many other niches. This image-only ad network was the primary source of traffic for a design-oriented website I owned, and made the difference between a few hundred dollars a month in sales, and a few thousand. Advertising is purchased by impression or on a monthly basis from individual advertisers, meaning each offers different pricing. But the minimum buy is very cheap – in the $10-$20/month range.

Option #2: Google AdWords

  • Ad Format: Text or image
  • Ad Components (for text ads): 25-character deadline, 2 lines of body copy @ 35 characters each, 35-character display URL
  • Approval Process: Automated, with manual review if you trip a filter

A few years ago, Google AdWords was great for startups. Many niches were untouched, and 5 and 10 cent clicks were commonplace. But these days, the vast majority of niches worth pursuing have ever-escalating click prices as more advertising dollars move online, including dollars from large corporations that don’t blink an eye about spending $5 to produce a single visitor to their website. With a 1% conversion rate you need a $500 lifetime customer value to break even. This is more than a stretch for most startups who are scraping by on 0.5% conversion rates and sub-$100 lifetime customer values (at least to start with). But with Google carpet-bombing $75 AdWords coupons to every business in the civilized world, the number of advertisers, and thus the competition, is increasing. For the most part, the days of cheap clicks are over. The $1-2 per click I used to pay to advertise my invoicing software has become a negative ROI for me at $4-5 per click. But all is not lost. There is still a place in the backwoods of AdWords where the wild-west mentality (and cheap clicks) reign. That place is the content network. People traditionally think of Google AdWords as the ads that appear to the right of the search results. But the lesser known cousin of search ads are the ads that appear in every AdSense block you see around the web. These are ads placed through the Google AdWords content network. The content network is less targeted, higher volume, and typically much cheaper to advertise on, than the search results. While we don’t have time here to delve into specifics of how to place ads on the content network, the most consistent approach I’ve seen that works over the long-term is to use their cost-per-action tool called the Conversion Optimizer. There’s a great write-up of how it works from Patrick McKenzie of Bingo Card Creator fame, here. There are also some helpful tips on advertising on the content network here. And if you’re willing to drop a few bucks, by far the best AdWords book available is the Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, which includes a section on using the content network.

Option #3: Facebook

  • Ad Format: Text with required image
  • Ad Components: 110×80 image, 25 character headline, 135 characters of body copy
  • Approval Process: Manual (sometimes slow)

Facebook is still viable for startups with its ability to deliver 10-15 cent clicks under the right circumstances. But it’s a bit like the Wild West: if you approach Facebook advertising incorrectly you will pay a premium, around 75-90 cents per click. The value of Facebook is its ability to show your ads to exactly who you want to see it based on information in a user’s profile. You can easily segment on gender, age, location, relationship status and a number of other fixed parameters, along with thousands of interests and occupations you can target using keywords. The key to low cost Facebook clicks is having a high click through rate (CTR). The key to a high CTR is a combination of a powerful image, an engaging headline, and laser-focused targeting. Due to space constraints we’re not going to cover the basics of choosing a powerful image or writing an engaging headline. Not when there are perfectly good articles already written on the subject for those who would like to know more: choosing an image / writing a headline. But once your ad is written, there is a trick to achieving those 10 cent clicks. Based on a tip from my friend JD, I now use the following method with Facebook ads:

  1. Target your demographic information so tightly that you can write a headline that addresses them specifically. Example: if you are selling shoes online to the U.S. market, create 10 different versions of the ad, one for each of the major metro areas in the U.S. Also include the qualifying "interests" keyword: shoes. Now make each ad headline address its group specifically, using a formula like "Need Shoes in [city name]?"
  2. Start the ads with a modest budget of, say, $5-10 per ad per day.
  3. After 12-24 hours review the ads. Some will have high CTRs and costs per click around 10-15 cents. Others will have low CTRs and clicks in the 80-90 cent range.
  4. Pause the higher cost ads and increase the budget for the low cost ads to whatever you can afford; $100 per day or more per ad.
  5. For a few days you will receive extremely low-cost, targeted traffic. But since you’ve chosen a small group of people, they will start to tune out the ad rather quickly. At this point your CTR will drop and your cost will climb. Pause the ad, and start over with new cities, new images or new headlines.

This approach requires ongoing maintenance but if you can generate targeted, 10-cent clicks it’s worth the effort.

Option #4: StumbleUpon

  • Ad Format: not applicable
  • Ad Components: just your URL
  • Approval Process: Manual

I recently advertised my developer’s guide to launching a startup on StumbleUpon. The plus side of StumbleUpon is that all clicks are 5 cents. The downside is the bounce rate is high since people are basically channel surfing. I achieved a 96.88% bounce rate in my experiment, with an average stay of 2 seconds. I wonder if it was something I said? In my test, only 25 visitors stayed longer than 5 seconds. I paid $50 for 1000 clicks, but since only 25 of them stayed long enough to read anything, I effectively paid $2 per click. Your mileage may vary, but through this and other experiments I’ve gathered the following tips for advertising on StumbleUpon:

  • Your #1 goal is to get stumblers to stay longer than 5 seconds. Your #2 goal is to get them to up-vote your page. Paying $50 for 1000 clicks is one thing. Having it go viral and receiving 10,000 clicks for the same price is another.
  • Don’t send StumbleUpon traffic to a landing page that asks for an email address. StumbleUpon users are notoriously fickle about providing their email.
  • People stumble to be entertained, so if your page doesn’t have the potential to go viral or turn into linkbait, you will not likely fare well.
  • Blog-like content and videos seem to work best. Anything that resembles a traditional landing page will bomb.

Option #5: Reddit

  • Ad Format: Text with optional image
  • Ad Components: 70×70 image, title, URL
  • Approval Process: Manual (two-day lead time)

Reddit uses an interesting approach for their ad pricing: advertisers bid a certain amount per day, all of the money goes into one big pot, and each advertiser receives their share of the impressions based on the percetage of funds they contributed. It’s a simple system, but it means there’s a bit of uncertainty about what you’re going to get for your money. However, Reddit has the potential to provide some very cheap clicks – I’ve seen as low as 3 cents – if you play your card right. Similar to StumbleUpon, Reddit provides your ad with the potential to go viral. Gabriel Weinberg has agreat write-up of the 20,700 clicks he scored for 3.14 cents each for his new search engine Duck Duck Go. His eye-catching image and tech-focused startup served him well with the audience. As he says:

First, a search engine ad is a good fit for reddit ads in general. It has broad market appeal and redditters in general like trying out new technology. Second, I think the ad is particularly well structured. The circular duck icon draws your attention, is contrasting to site colors, and sticks out because it is a circle (as most images are square). I believe the title also has appeal.

Gyutae Park also has a nice write-up of the 434 clicks he purchased for 9 cents each here. One of my recent experiments was a bit more pricey: 187 clicks at 40 cents each. My lackluster performance was a combination of landing on a competitive advertising day, and using a poor-quality header image. In retrospect, I have no idea what I was thinking using this unreadable image: Reddit ads are so simple (just two visible components) that the only tip I have is self-evident: your image has to rock, and so does your title. It’s all about choosing an image and headline that makes people click.

Conclusion

To conclude, I want to reiterate what I said early in this article: unless you have deep pockets think of advertising not as a long-term traffic strategy, but as a testing tool to improve your website and find out more about your ideal visitor. Few bootstrapped startups can withstand the cash outlay required to turn advertising into a marketing activity with a positive ROI, but that shouldn’t keep you from testing the waters to find out for yourself. I look forward to hearing about your advertising experience and recommendations in the comments.Like this site? Help spread the word.

Will A Brands Next Big Move Be A Journalism Department?

Who should own Social Media in the organization?

The challenge in answering that question comes from a lack of clear definition. It depends on how you (and your organization) defines Social Media. Some see it as a communications channel, while others use it to extend their advertising. Other companies use it for customer service and some use it as a platform to experiment with content marketing. None of those are inherently right or wrong, they’re just different uses (and there are countless more). The long-held debate (and yes, we’re looking at over a decade of Social Media usage, at this point) was about whether or not Social Media should be a part of the Marketing department or the Communications department.

In the end, Social Media is everywhere.

The companies that tend to benefit the most from Social Media are the ones who are finding multiple blends, tactics and campaigns to find their sweet spot. Some have used short, mid and long-term tactics against an overall business strategy, while others have chosen to blend one-way with two-way communications and more conversational types of strategies.

It’s the content, stupid.

While advertising has its place in Social Media, it’s all about the content. The platform allows everyone to publishing anything in text, images, audio and video instantly (and for free) for the entire world to see. It’s humbling to know that the success of your content is almost entirely driven by how relevant it is (or, how it moves your audience). It’s easy to make a case for content marketing, but it’s going to wind up being the wrong case you should be making.

Death to content marketing.

The problem with content marketing is the marketing part of the equation. Marketing content rarely connects with an audience. Why? Because it’s really just marketing material that is thinly veiled as content, and it’s quickly becoming the kind of one-sided content that turns people off. What makes great content spread is how unique and inspiring the message is, not in how it slants into a direction that ultimately positions your company as the only one to buy from.

Flipping from content marketing to journalism.

I was thinking about this Blog. I was thinking about citizen journalism. I was watching Geoff Livingston present at Webcom Montreal last week, and things started to click. Maybe the reason this Blog has some level of success is because it’s more like journalism than it is about what Twist Image offers and sells (I prefer to write relevant articles about this industry). Maybe citizen journalists are the best marketers that a brand could ever ask for, and maybe, Livingston is right that the problem with content marketing is the "marketing" part. Instead of plopping Social Media into your communications or marketing department, why not start a journalism department (or start off in a more humble way by hiring a journalist part-time to write content that your organization will publish)?

What could a journalist do for your brand?

  • They could write articles about the industry you serve without slanting the piece to favor your brand (this would give you credibility and build trust).
  • They could become valuable by commenting and adding more content in the many other primary spaces for Social Media that people in your industry follow.
  • They could interview the industry leaders for you.
  • They could add a layer of credibility to the content you’re publishing, because you’re very clear in your disclosures that this journalist’s role is not to write favorable content about the company, but to write great content about the industry you serve.

We’re not talking about a journalist who is working for you as a writer.

That would be missing the point. The idea here is to start creating content that is both valuable and needed. The idea here is to see if a tactic like this could lead to an entire department of journalists that are publishing the most relevant and interesting stories about the industry you serve. It’s about becoming the de facto recognized authority for your industry. It’s about adding so much value that your clients (and potential clients) need you in their lives because the insights and information that you’re providing are so valuable. The challenge (of course) will be in doing this in an honest and credible way. Marketers don’t have a strong history of being able to pull this sort of stuff off, because we just can’t help ourselves but to push our own wares in the moment of truth (which is sad). The only way this will work is if the brand truly does let the journalist be an actual journalist (instead of a corporate shill).

I think this is a huge (and interesting) opportunity. What do you think? Is the world ready for real Brand Journalism?

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