The Zen of content marketing (Column)

How to embrace your inner Ps: publishing, producing and publicity
Martin Waxman

Martin Waxman

Martin Waxman is president of Martin Waxman Communications, EVP of Thornley Fallis and author of the blog myPalette. 

Marketing communications – especially on the agency side – has long been considered a stressful career. And no wonder. You’re working fast and to deadline, bombarded by questions and requests from clients, suppliers, partners and colleagues. And that was in the olden days of legacy media.

Now, with content marketing added to the mix, not to mention the daily social media updates (or the new platforms that haven’t even been dreamed up yet), we’re under even more pressure.

So what’s a marketing professional to do?

Short of switching careers or becoming that curmudgeon who won’t let go of the past, it’s time to take a deep breath, count to 10, relax your muscles and try to find the Zen of content marketing.

Don’t worry, I’m not going all New Age on you. But I will say it starts when you learn to embrace your inner Ps: publishing, producing and publicity.

Publishing – The marketing part of content marketing may be a bit misleading if taken literally. Yes, you’re trying to achieve business goals and generate awareness and sales, but in a less in-your-face way than before.

To succeed, you need to start thinking and acting like a publisher. That means adopting an approach that puts both story and audience first. Get beyond the campaign mindset and consider the overall story arc for your business and how that can play out over time. Look for ideas that address your customer’s questions in a way no one’s done before. Be consistent with your publishing schedule to build an audience. To figure out how it’s done, seek out friends who are journalists and ask them to describe their process. Better yet, see if they’ll let you be a fly on the wall in one of their editorial meetings.

Producing – Digital strategist Richard Binhammer wrote an excellent post on the history of visual storytelling.

One of his takeaways is that we haven’t just started living in a visual world; we’ve always lived in one. The last half of the 20th century is a testament to that, as ad folks have been saying since the Mad Men days. Photo opps aside, PR and communications have clung a bit too tightly to the written word. Now I’m not saying we should give up writing. Far from it. But we do have to learn how to seamlessly integrate multimedia into the stories we create. That means producing a social media quality video or using your own photos rather than a stock image.

But to do that, you need to get out of your comfort zone and master something new – and that takes time. The good news is it opens your mind and gives you a fresh perspective and surprising ideas can emanate from that.

Publicity (that is, new PR) – Creating enticing content that dazzles your audience is the first step (and a lot easier said than done). But how do you get your stories to break through the clutter? That’s where you need to think about a distribution strategy.

It begins on your own site with a hub that could be a newsroom or blog; the place where your online stories live. Then, much like traditional publicity, you need to identify and build relationships with the people you’re trying to reach – bloggers, legacy media, influencers or consumers – before you ask them to do something (it’s called reciprocity).

Figure out what they’re passionate about by what they write and share. Then make sure that whatever you send them resonates with their interests. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, spamming is even easier. Don’t fall into that trap.

You don’t have to sit in the lotus position to be successful. But if you incorporate some Ps into your content marketing mantra, you’re off to a good start.

 

 

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