Monday, December 31, 2012

What Is “Content Marketing”?

James O’Brien defines it thusly:

When we talk about “content marketing,” we mean the creation of storytelling material that attracts readers, viewers and listeners to a brand.

Content marketing is not an ad on a billboard or a one-page spread in a magazine. It doesn’t have to be a commercial on cable television or the 28 annoying seconds before the start of that next YouTube hit.

The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story. The value returned is often that people associate good things with—and return to engage with—the brand.

Who does content marketing well? Red Bull, which O’Brein defines as “a publishing empire that also happens to sell a beverage. Lately, every conference PowerPoint on the future of advertising or PR seems to mention Red Bull as a—if not the—shining example of a brand-turned-publisher, what every future-leaning agency encourages its clients to emulate.”

He elaborates:

Red Bull Media House makes content that other media outlets can use. It’s a production studio, full of writers, filmmakers, editors and other creative types. And while its in-house staff kept the reporter running in circles, some of its freelancers and athletes opened up about their experiences. . . .

“I’ve never been asked to crowbar Red Bull into any story I’ve done with them,” says Nick Amies, who freelances for the lifestyle and music beat for Red Bulletin Europe, and also covers similar topics for the New York Times and the Economist. “The promotion of the brand comes through the activities I cover.”

“Just because Red Bull is a brand, it doesn’t mean that the Red Bulletin is a vanity project with minimal editorial control,” he says. “It’s as hard to write for and as professional as any other international magazine I have been involved with.”

The idea is for the Red Bulletin to be seen as a great lifestyle magazine first and a Red Bull project second.