Tension Between Marketing and Editorial Content

The Tension Between Marketing and Editorial Content

Technology companies often want to be seen as authoritative “thought leaders,” believing (correctly) that useful, original content that demonstrates their intelligence accrues to their benefit.

They hope to become a go-to source whose expertise attracts, engages and retains customers impressed by their smarts.

One great way to be seen as smart is for executives to earn bylined placement in leading publications. The best publications want to serve and engage their communities while generating attention. They succeed over time by informing, delighting, amusing, educating, and in the best cases enticing people to share content that further spreads the editorial brand.

The publishers vary in their needs but invariably have editorial standards requiring content submitted for editorial consideration be:

  • New. (Provide real information, data, a fresh perspective.)
  • Interesting. (Be cogent, inviting, intriguing.)
  • Agnostic. (Don’t overtly sell a company’s products or services.)
  • Strong. (Take a position. Make a case. Don’t pull punches.)
  • Controversial. This one isn’t actually required, but eliciting emotion and response can help get a piece accepted.

Those editorial mandates may not align with imperatives of marketers who want to avoid taking risks or causing discomfort. They can have trouble seeing the value of content that doesn’t directly align with messaging they’ve devised for a brand.

A client recently asked me to conceive some op-eds that leading business publications might accept. I based one tempting proposal on ground-breaking posits from one of their executives about how publishers can succeed in a world of automation and social media. The client so far has hesitated to green light the proposal.

The article would show them willing to take a stand for their industry, without surety they’ll generate more sales from the piece. It would demonstrate their willingness to be bold and forward-thinking. It would, in other words, show thought leadership.

Thought leadership requires just that: thoughts and leadership. Being a real leader means being out front and taking risks. As with all risks, there are potential downsides. There is also the potential for big rewards.

Author: Dorian Benkoil

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