The marketing industry sits on the ledge of a deep precipice at the moment. Over the past decade we have been handed the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, when it comes to the ability to target audiences, captivate them, and create conversations. The digital universe broke down many barriers the corporate world faced in order to directly communicate and it broke them down quick and effectively.
Social media meant the ability to reach out and have a direct dialogue that wasn’t cultivated through expensive creative development. Blogs gave companies the ability to act as publishers themselves and fill audience voids, especially when it came to the long tail and further broadcast their messages via a multitude of novel channels. On the earned side, during the past decade a massive amount of third party blogs went mainstream, meaning that PR pros had an easier job targeting a new breed of journalists that would write about their initiatives. And so both took off running. Every agency turned their clients into publishers and every marketer began to fill our eyes, and ears with a plethora of information.
But in 2014 it’s beginning to hit critical mass. More and more content is going out, but there are only so many eyeballs to pay attention to it. We’ve been navigating these waters by having some of our focus go toward initiatives which are more quick-fire for an attention-dwindling society. Videos on Vine that tell the briefest of stories. Instagram pictures that speak 1000 words. Twitter posts announcing news as opposed to press releases. But this only means more over-saturation in both long and short-form content. These flaws of content marketing are also blending in with the flaws of earned media. More and more companies produce stories, yet there are less and less journalists to cover or publish them.
The bottom line: Content marketing must change just as public relations must evolve and social must be in the collective DNA of both. It’s not enough to have a captivating blog, a thought leadership campaign or even a few great article mentions. Nor will a robust twitter strategy be any sort of saving grace. Blurred lines between service sectors, disparate agency types and non-communicative marketing teams have created a communications 8 headed hydra that is too disorganized to overcome the content shock that barrages modern day audiences.
For all brand initiatives, a new breed of integrative champions must emerge. They are going to be the renaissance men and women who are in a state of constant innovation with content that interweaves the best practices across earned, owned and paid as a seamlessly unified whole. The modern marketer will need to be able to utilize data not just to hyper-target audiences, but also to drive creative holistically. They will need to be able to cross silos, mediums, and platforms and they will need to drive experiences in utterly novel ways. Content marketing, social media and public relations are no longer terms nor ideas that can be separate. Content relations, however, is a term we should begin to embrace. It’s the ability to create robust new formats of content that target audiences in relatable ways wherever, whenever and however they are found that will ultimately reign supreme in the industry. A merge is coming and smart organizations should start planning to act more like tapestry creators and less like bucket carriers.