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10 strategies publishers can learn from content marketers

Journalism and content marketing – they are two sides of the same industry. Journalism needs content to build brands, make markets and define opinions. Content marketing needs content to make money with opinions and stories based on brands’ messages. 

Increasingly journalists work for one side of the industry or the other, sometimes even both. Journalism and content marketing are bound to share the same future and the same resources and thus the profits needed to sustain themselves. That’s why we think the time has come to think about what content marketers and journalists can learn from each other. 

Journalism ()

1. To successfully run a new business model you need to have a clear common goal, which needs to be covered by a consistent top management commitment.

Leadership skills like courage, empathy and attitude are required, while new dynamic players need to be integrated both internally and externally and receive necessary support throughout. Even more important is the collaboration with the current team. This is where the potential is sleeping. To awake it, you might need to use some gimmicks. It remains a challenge to overcome core-beliefs like “we have always done it that way” or “I have been here way longer”. But it is worth investing and persevering. There is nothing more exciting than if a publisher is successfully being able to translate its DNA into the digital age, for both you and your clients. 

2. Your company’s marketing and digital departments are not ‘The Dark Side’!

They are not the ones stealing jobs from the editorial and printing faculties. The disruption of your jobs happens independent from them on a global level. But they are the ones with whom you can collaborate to create your company’s future. And they need you exactly like you need them, regardless of whether they are working for a different profit centre or not: you can only build sustainable success together.  

Darth Vader ()

3. Journalism competences can be a true asset for marketing.

This rings true especially in the digital age, when some tend to believe that they are the ‘David Copperfield of creating content’ solely due to having an iPhone. Journalism can differentiate and deliver true content manufacturing. Combined with marketing and distribution strategy, journalism competencies can create liquid gold touching the hearts and delivering real value to customers.

4. No potential client is seriously asking publishers to deliver "Crash, Boom, Bang" ideas at a pitch.

Ideas for a product placement, guerrilla or other creative positioning can be nice, but should not be the editorial DNA, regardless as to what a potential client is keen on. What changes are the circumstances: You will get a strategic partner, who is building an architecture for your common future home. And to build a sustainable ‘home’,  architects, construction engineers, bricklayers and other craftsman all must collaborate, especially if they want to build a modern, dynamic architecture.

5. If publishers truly understand and embrace content marketing, their clients are no longer PR departments.

In this case, the clients are on the C-level. Content marketing works best, when the customer’s challenges are really understood. When the content truly builds on these challenges and provides value. All ways of engaging and trying to convince customers like "I am the greatest" or "Believe me, I am the greatest" lack relevance.

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6. No data, no business.

Content marketing means business and this business is based on analytics, numbers and data. Contents written for brands are bound to be analysed, atomised and amplified to make the brands successful, to sell products and to deliver results. Journalists, too, can benefit from this perspective. Data = business.

7. Contents with a definite goal.

No content marketer that we know of would approve content written without a purpose or a goal. There is no such thing as intuitive content marketing. Why should publishers spend money on content that serves no goal or has no purpose? Start earning results by identifying those contents that deliver conversions, sales or impressions – they will drive your media business just as do at content marketing campaigns.

8. One team, multiple themes.

Any typical content marketing agency tries to leverage the content resources available by letting the staff write about a large number of topics and themes. While these marketers write content for one brands they already work on analysis and reports for another brand or prepare a pitch for yet another assignment. Such teams are flexible, modular and scalable. This is a great learning curve for large and small publishers alike. The formula of success: flexible teams + modular content = publishing success based on content marketing methods.

Journos ()

9. Audience first, products second.

For marketers and communicators persona creation is the core essence of campaign planning workflows. No persona, no campaign. The best contents are those written for only one persona aka one specified target audience. The audience needs define the contents and products delivered by the agency. Publishers can make use of this principle by, first, creating personas for their brands and, second, identifiying those contents that deliver on what the audience wants.

10. Minimum information units.

One long story to savvy content marketers is a smarty collection of atomised information. Such minimum information units (miu) can be distributed, amplified and segmented multiple times. Instead of having one content to employ suddenly publishers who understand the miu strategy have 5- to 10-times more content to spread key messages and attract audiences.

Content ()

Johannes Ceh is a trained journalist and content strategist who has worked with leading brands such as Sport1, Springer & Jacoby, BMW, Mercedes, Ogilvy and Havas. He is a consultant with a focus on the intersection of customer experience, digital culture and organisational development.

Twitter: @johannesceh

Dominik Grau is the chief innovation officer of 200-year-old Ebner Media Group. He has worked in publishing and media businesses in the U.S. and Europe for 15+ years as an editor, editor-in-chief, director and managing director. During his career he has won more than a dozen global awards and nominations for digital transformation. Dominik is a keynote speaker and contributor.

Twitter: @dominikgrau

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