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Producing content for a non-traditional publisher is hard. For a start, consumers still don’t trust content produced by non-traditional publishers. They see it as advertising and this is one huge hurdle in itself.

Having taken the jump from working in online journalism for traditional publishing houses two years ago, to working for a non-traditional publisher (Confused.com), it has been, at times, a challenge, though I do like a challenge.

I actually really love what I do, and think I’m lucky to have a profession where I can honestly say I have never clock watched, the only exception being when I was a journalist for a metal publication writing about stainless steel. Yes, I really did that.

It’s more than getting the buy-in for content

Getting the buy-in for content can be tough but then there are still many more challenges to contend with, and the one that gets me most is the old quality vs quantity content debate.

Frankly, I'm shocked it still comes up. I feel really strongly about it but not everyone in the marketing industry agrees.

To explain, say you’re faced with two options; what do you go for? Do you churn out four or five blogs or articles a day by grappling round the web doing a cut and paste job from various websites and sources.

Or you produce two articles a day, make all the content 100% original, make it multi-media so not just copy-based and produced all in-house, which option would you go for?

I’m curious, so please share your opinion at the end.

Don’t churn it out unless the quality stands up

I know what I believe is best practice and I am strong in my conviction. But from time to time there’s someone who thinks that content is about churning it out, by lifting it from the web or regurgitating press releases.

If that was what it was about, my job would be so easy, but this approach certainly wouldn’t do much for my professional reputation.

What this leads me to, is my declaration that producing content for a non-traditional publisher is hard. For a start, consumers still don’t trust content produced by non-traditional publishers because it’s not yet the norm. 

One more challenge is convincing others about its value. It is a leap of faith for non-traditional publishers to invest in content, but a leap that is so worthwhile. But perhaps the biggest challenge is convincing online businesses that they have to think and act like publishers, because these days, that's really what we all are.

For a start, this means not just producing content that is average and ticks a box, but it has to at least match or exceed the standard you would expect from any national paper or website.

It also means not churning it out, unless of course you can guarantee to maintain quality. If you have the money and resource to do quality and quantity, then you’re onto a winner.

Are the times changing?

Thinking like a publisher is still not the norm for many businesses and it may go against what your commercial instincts tell you. As a result, there are misunderstandings about what content and brand journalism actually is in practice.

Really, it's about delivering compelling content that helps your customers, informs them, entertains them and builds rapport with them so that in the end you gain their trust and win and retain their custom.

This made me smile. It was the simplest sign that as an industry, we are getting there.

A quick Google search for ‘brand journalism’ made me see there are more and more people discussing and advocating it and it was this simple discovery that restored my faith.

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Published 8 December, 2011 by Sharon Flaherty

Sharon Flaherty is Editor at Confused.com and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

3 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

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Mark Bolitho, New Business Director - Ecommerce at more2

Hi Sharon, enjoyed reading this.

Agree that it's quality every time - something that stems from, and taps in to a business's core values is always going to be original. Keeping the originality going is harder, but if somebody can formulate a unique standpoint then it becomes easier.

I'm urging a couple of clients to adopt this approach at the moment actually. Again, I agree that it's pretty unavoidable that any kind of content marketing or brand journalism will ultimately be perceived as advertising. I'm actually thinking of implementing an attention grabbing, but completely anonymous content marketing campaign for a niche client, followed up by email and telemarketing to reveal all.

We'll see!

Thanks, nice post.

Mark.

over 4 years ago

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Sharon Flaherty, Editor at Confused.com

Thanks Mark, appreciate the comment. My feeling is a lot more companies will start looking to go this way, but guess we have to wait and see!

over 4 years ago

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