An Intern’s Perspective on Content Marketing and Its Niche within Digital Marketing
My name is Travis Lofley. I’m 22 years old and I graduated from Texas Tech University in May 2015 with a B.A. in Public Relations. I chose to transition into the world of digital marketing upon graduation and was fortunate to receive an opportunity this past summer to begin my career with WrightIMC as a post-graduate intern.My formal title with WrightIMC is Content Marketing Intern, but with a boutique agency like ours that employs about 20 full-time people, it’s a very autonomous environment. Every day brings a new challenge and everyone here is dedicated to doing whatever is necessary to meet the needs of every client. My job responsibilities are broad, however, content marketing is still the foundation of my work. I was brought on board with the company because of my public relations background, and how my perspective would contribute to the needs of our clients. Here’s how I explain my role at WrightIMC.
The IMC in WrightIMC’s name stands for Integrated Marketing Communications. IMC is a popular digital marketing structure. The best way I can describe it is that it follows the public relations mindset of storytelling and connecting with the consumer beyond the hard sell of advertising, in order to drive and support marketing objectives and the desire for ROI. This is where a content marketer like me is a niche contributor in our agency.
Content Marketing within Digital Marketing
Content marketing didn’t change the digital marketing landscape, rather the digital marketing landscape changed and content marketing became an integral part of the industry. Digital marketing cut its teeth with hackers and computer programmers who would always be on top of the latest search engine algorithms. At one time, top search engine results would be filled with poorly-written content, incoherent and spammed with keywords to cheat the system. Search engines began to pick up on this trend and enacted penalties to prevent and demote this spam. Marketers needed people who understood storytelling, literary authority, and branding who could give clients a voice and, as a result, drive conversions by creating a relationship with consumers. Search engines wanted to deliver useful content to people searching for it, and beyond basic facts that are similar among competitive businesses, story-telling content became the way to stand out from competitors. There are many ways to do effective content marketing, from using humorful yet authoritative memes and images to inform the consumer of a product on social platforms to create a blogging platform that’s a transparent voice of the company for entry-level employees all the way to top management.
The similarities between public relations practitioners and content marketers can be summed up in one word: community. The average public relations professional lives and dies by their client or organization’s appearance in the news. They work to stay on top of their media lists, contacts with journalists, and ultimately their public reputation. Content marketers live and die by search engines and social media platforms and the relationships they’ve created with blogging authorities and social media communities through “link building.” The old days of buying links or creating link rings are gone and buried.Modern link building is just one of several more-technical strategies that content marketers need to learn to increase the chances of reaching their target audience. Now, it involves recreating existing content with the more subject authority and more value than other competitive content. I say “recreating” because in 2015, let’s be honest – there’s not much new under the sun. The basic facts of a piece of content like “how to install a faucet” don’t change from plumbing website to plumbing website – but the quality of the writing (or videos) do. After your awesome new content is created – blog post, infographic, video – then the process of reaching out to appropriate authors in online communities becomes very much like traditional PR. Sometimes it involves asking them to create links in their own content because your content is now more valuable than what existed before, which eventually drives traffic back to the client’s blog or other content. If you earn links in the right neighborhoods, your client will benefit more from the visitors sent from there than from the search engine boost.
A Story and Voice
I had a professor at Texas Tech who would tell her students to “Come out swinging for the jugular, and always tell your story.” I’d say this absolutely applies to the content marketing world in the same way it applies to public relations. There are voices across the web, but few really have the authority and expertise that earn the precious time of fast-paced, constantly-changing, online communities. I know all too well that I’ve transitioned into an industry that operates off of paid media and ROI measurement, so I understand the numbers and their significance. But, it excites me to have entered into an industry that can also look beyond the spreadsheet and value people who are the voice for a brand instead of being one voice in a sea of many. I look forward to all that is yet to come and the newest trends that will continue to appear in our ever-changing industry.
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