B2BMarketing.net was set up in 2004 in response to a perceived “gap in the market for a dedicated B2B marketing resource.” Looking at the hive of activity that is visible across the site and within various communities it is clear that it continues to answer a need amongst marketeers.
In addition to the launch of this site, the year 2004 was an interesting time for many reasons. It was during this year that a whale exploded in Taiwan whilst being transported through the streets, Apple said that it didn’t think video iPods would work due to a lack of content from Hollywood, and there were rumours that Bluetooth was about to take off. You would not have been able to read about any of this on Twitter because Twitter was two years away, while YouTube was still a twinkle in its inventor’s eyes, to be launched in 2005.
So between 2004 and 2006 the digital media landscape changed dramatically, creating multiple opportunities for marketeers to engage with audiences – which is possibly why a search on B2B Marketing for “Content Marketing” generates almost 7000 entries. The possibility of creating content that could reach audiences through these online environments quickly became an obligation for marketeers to capitalise on.
As a PR practitioner I remember being in various meetings as the PR industry wrestled with this. Brand Journalism and Citizen Journalism threatened to obliterate the value of editorial as content marketing agencies sprang up offering info graphics and by lined articles that didn’t have to go through the pain of editorial scrutiny. It is fair to say that PR was out of fashion for a while there. Even now a search on B2B Marketing for “Public Relations” and “PR” combined only generates about 1,200 entries, which is 17% of the amount of content of “Content Marketing.”
Even as an agency that provides content in all forms, whether for editorial purposes or not, I must declare an interest here in that commercially an agency like mine is fundamentally set up to sell PR strategy and the relevant services. Putting that to one side though, I firmly believe that B2B brands who invest in content that is not fit for editors need to think again. A journalist is the perfect test-bed for your content. Not a journalist that is paid to create stuff for you, but a journalist who is paid to curate and edit content for his or her readers. Journalists are trained and employed on the basis that they know what content is of interest to a specific audience. In today’s age of the web, it is even more clear to editors whose stories attract views, engage audiences and basically get eyeballs on adverts.
Taking the editorial filter out of the equation of your content marketing strategy is like removing the quality control on a production line. What’s more, the investment in taking content to the media is a fraction of the cost of producing the content in the first place, whilst offering the chance to win third party endorsement and credibility to support that content further down the line.
It has to be said that not all content is right for editorial purposes. But within every successful content marketing strategy should be a story. It is that story that should be extracted and pushed out editorially in order to engage audiences that your own mechanics do not reach, and to add credibility to your narrative.
Whilst your PR team may not be the right team to actually create all of the content, they are the ones who spend their time on the phone talking to journalists. The rejection and feedback that they get from the media every day can provide B2B marketers with valuable insight into the appeal of a story and the angle that the creative might take. B2B marketers who don’t solicit this insight are missing a trick.