SIPAlert Daily: Big Players Turn to Creating a ‘Content Engine’

It‘s a good time to be a content company, according to Bryan Goldberg. He co-founded Bleacher Report in 2005; Turner Broadcasting System bought it last year for a reported $175 million. Goldberg wrote a blog post yesterday on the site pandodaily about the merits of starting a content company. (He plans to start up a new one.)

This comes less than a week after a famous public relations firm, Edelman in New York, named one of their stars, Steve Rubel, as the agency’s new chief content strategist. According to a story in The New York Times, Rubel “will be responsible for efforts to maximize the benefits of content appearing in various forms of media—paid, earned, owned and shared—on behalf of clients.” The next paragraph says that such moves are “all the rage on Madison Avenue” now, with discussions about “marketing in real time” and “whether brands ought to support content-creation units that operate around the clock like newsrooms.”

Wow. First of all, David Meerman Scott was talking about this very thing at the 2011 SIPA Annual Conference! From my post-Conference article: “…as content creators, specialized publishers stand in perfect position in this new social-media-centric world to ‘write the second paragraph’—meaning that they can take a real-time event and take advantage of it.” Back then, his example was Oakley getting sunglasses for the Chilean miners to wear as they emerged from the ground. Today it would certainly be Poland Spring for its social media activity following Senator Marco Rubio’s famous swig after President Obama’s State of the Union address. (“Reflecting on our cameo,” their post read. “What a night!”)

“We’re seeing a changed competitive landscape,” Richard Edelman, president and chief executive at Edelman, told the Times. “All of a sudden, clients are open to ideas from P.R. firms, digital agencies, media-buying agencies, not just creative shops.” This is because clients are finding that they need quality content to compete. Rubel calls it “putting a content engine inside Edelman.” SIPA members already have those content engines. So what are the next steps? Here are a few I can determine from reading about these initiatives.

1. Tweet away. The last line of the article about Steve Rubel says that he has more than 76,000 Twitter followers. That led me to the Bryan Goldberg article. Another of his retweets led to an article that says that 41% of email is now opened on mobile devices. I know it still may sound funny to some, but start tweeting if you’re not already. Your words have value.

2. Don’t be afraid to add products. I wrote yesterday about the ease that Wiley can now create new products. Writes Goldberg about his soon-to-come content company: “I plan to launch my next startup with two engineers, and it may stay that way for quite some time.”

3. Pursue advertising. Goldberg believes in this model because he thinks that there’s always room for more good content. He wants you to jump in there. “[Advertising] will continue to grow at a healthy pace, and digital will take disproportionate share,” he writes. “And while it’s true that Google currently has the most compelling advertising product, that will eventually change and those ad dollars will start to be shared more equitably.”

4. Practice content marketing. Edelman put together a recent photo collage for Buzzfeed that contains pictures of old razors in creative new situations. Schick paid for it, the content is interesting and everyone is happy.

5. Encourage more inter-office collaboration. The days of walled-off departments appear to be over. Rubel wants to be part of the conversation between editorial and business that he knows must take place. Marketing and sales must now work closer than ever. IT people need to be involved early on for most projects. Yahoo is making everyone come to the office to collide and innovate. More than ever, departments need to talk to each other, whether it’s about a new CMS, a customer or a press release

It’s amazing that in this era of new communication vehicles, communicating may still be the number one obstacle. I think it’s because we don’t—or believe we can’t—take just a little time to think about what we are doing. Instead, we just do*. I’ll have to leave that topic for another day.

(*With apologies to Nike.)

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Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 as managing editor. Follow Ronn on Twitter at @RonnatSIPA

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