Announcing your news: the content marketing approach
It might be tough to admit, but we all have an ego – and when something important happens to us we expect, or even hope, for a little attention. For companies, it’s no different. Beyond their collective ‘ego’, they’ve got customers, competitors, suppliers, investors, and the wider industry to worry about. These audiences all need to see a regular rhythm of positive updates; of progress; of momentum. So when a company has news, you better believe it’s important to announce that news in the right way, to the right people, at the right time. So, what’s a content marketer to do?
Let’s put this into context. There has been much debate over the declining value of press releases, as a way of announcing an organisation’s news. Opinions still vary from “the press release is dead” to “the press release is more important than life itself“. The truth lies somewhere in the middle: the press release isn't dead, but its role is evolving, and it’s becoming increasingly important to take a more rounded content marketing approach than skipping straight to “quick, someone draft a press release!”
News publishing is changing at the speed of light
News is still news – and it still creates conversations. Last year, British newspaper brands alone stimulated 445 million interactions on social media. But the state of publishing is changing quickly: social networks are becoming consumers' primary source of news, and the surge in consumption of video and news on mobile devices is inescapable.
Almost every major news outlet now has at least one in-house social media employee; most of them have several. A few years ago those jobs didn't exist. Journalists are thinking more like publishers, and publishers are thinking more like marketers. Meanwhile, ironically, marketers are thinking more like publishers – see the steady rise in use of phrases like "earned media" and "content marketing".
Marketing teams are being forced to think more creatively about how they get their company news out in the open. When it comes to news announcements, for example, websites that simply reprint press releases – or allow users to post content with minimal editorial control – will be in shorter supply and gradually less valuable as sources of earned media coverage. Google's algorithm will see to that. Generic duplicated content is living on borrowed time. Just as copy-and-paste journalism was never acceptable in print, it may soon depart from online publishing too.
News -> objectives -> strategy -> execution
This evolution of news publishing means the build-it-and-they-will-come, one-to-many approach of corporate news dissemination needs to change. The humble press release can still offer a lesson for marketing teams – internally it will always be valuable as a central “this thing is happening” document, which gets everyone on the same page (excuse the pun). But if your ‘news’ isn’t newsworthy to the media, you won’t fool them. In fact, you’ll risk damaging your relationship with them. Perhaps it’s a blog instead, or an update for your LinkedIn group, or an item in the email newsletter that goes to your customers, or a guest article with a relevant magazine? Not all content must go through all channels – a fundamental assumption to live by if you’re into marketing for the sake of results, not marketing for the sake of marketing.
Whether your company announcement is a big deal to the outside world or not, the most important thing to do is agree on what the news is (you’d be surprised how many skip that stage), which audiences it is relevant to, why it matters to them, how to reach those audiences and what action you want the announcement to provoke. And that sounds suspiciously like what great marketer’s teams do for a living… doesn’t it?