While there are clear benefits to positive media coverage, plenty of companies avoid the spotlight because they can’t control the final result. But now, with the rise of content marketing, businesses across a range of industries are becoming publishers.
These aren’t mere company blogs, but media websites for delivering specific messages to highly targeted audiences. And they can be approached in a number of different ways to help build thought leadership, improve search engine visibility, and drive leads.
#1: Dynamic Online Newsrooms—Crisis Management and Brand Credibility
In 2010, as the Deepwater Horizon rig sank below the water, Louisiana’s seafood industry faced a fight-or-flight moment during the Gulf oil spill. Around-the-clock coverage on cable news naturally raised questions about the safety of Gulf seafood.
Within weeks, the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board launched LouisianaSeafoodNews.com (now GulfSeafoodNews.com) to provide news and context about the disaster. Articles on LouisianaSeafoodNews.com covered timely news events and offered a consistent point of view: Unspoiled fishing grounds are still open. We won’t sell tainted seafood. The catch is safe.
By starting a media site to report the news on its own terms, the industry engaged in textbook damage control. But damage control is hardly the only good reason to operate a media site.
#2: Advocacy for New Approaches
Sometimes the game is more about offense than defense. Media sites can be a great way to promote new ideas and help those ideas rank better in online searches. One such example is ServiceVirtualization.com, an informational site devoted to several ideas surrounding software development.
The site advocates, among other things, for better collaboration between developers and IT operations staff and more, better software testing. ServiceVirtualization.com is underwritten by a major technology company, but it makes a point of not endorsing specific products. It sticks to evangelizing about ideas and approaches. It merely urges readers to consider a new path. If they choose that path, they’ll know where to look to find products.
#3: A Forum for Opinion and Debate
Another effective approach is to set your site up as a forum for a wide array of opinions and debate without taking a side. The goals are to shed greater light on an under-covered topic and be seen as a thought leader on it.
A good example of this approach is EnergyViewpoints.com, which is published by a large utility company. The site’s mission is to provide a forum for views on energy issues, especially infrastructure and sustainability. The company benefits from being seen as a trusted broker of transparency who is legitimately interested in both sides of an important debate.
#4: Education for Solving a Problem
Starting an educational site is another way of establishing yourself as an authority. Your mission here is to provide a site that is useful—preferably indispensable—to those looking to solve a particular problem.
TodaysWirelessWorld.com, my own recent initiative for BearCom Wireless and Motorola, is aimed at organizations and people who need better tools for wireless communication. Coverage runs the gamut, from video devices that aid Super Bowl security to mesh broadband networks to apps for digital two-way radios.
All four approaches have something in common: They give readers valuable information and ask nothing, explicitly, in return. They draw on the concept of lethal generosity, the idea that he who brings the most to the party becomes the most popular guest.
By contributing the smartest, timeliest information to the larger online conversation, you gain influence—not only in search results, but also in the sales funnel. In the end, that’s the best reason your company should consider getting into the content marketing business.
A final thought: “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” ~Tom Fishburne