The Content Rush of 2017
Since generating millions of web visits at Hark.com during the 2012 Presidential Election debate cycle via one of my first true ‘owned’ content campaigns (featured in PR Week), the concept of content creation and distribution as a PR tool has overtaken my toolkit. But the nature of content and what makes audience impressions is changing before our eyes. Just four short years ago our team at Hark placed a huge value on the uniqueness of each piece of content, but today, audiences are gobbling up content en masse regardless of quality.
A good example is the recent surge of content at the Washington Post, which bypassed the New York Times’ online readership last year with a growth rate of 28 percent. How? The Post is now publishing up to 1,200 pieces of content per day, according to our friends at BuzzSumo! That’s the Bezos way – take advantage of the long tail effect, just as he did at Amazon. And it is working. No other daily newspaper is coming close to matching that pace and it is paying dividends for the Post.
And so I am, at this moment, pivoting on my four-year old content strategy, adhering to a new policy of providing quantity in addition to just quality. Why? First, I adhere to market trends. Secondly, quality content requires deeper brainstorms, better scripts, more expensive artists, perfect timing and no guarantee of engagement. Instead, by ramping up the quantity of your content, that content becomes more evergreen, meaning more purposeful and more useful on a daily basis. Finally, we live in a 24-hour news cycle world. Why bother spending a month creating something that only holds value for a single day unless the potential payoff is huge?
Go big or go home
Content sells. And at the end of the day, what should matter most to any PR person worth his or her salt today is the ability to produce content that generates sales leads, rather than just impressions. At Voxus, we have produced a number of videos over the past two years that have initiated six figure sales contracts, while also driving hundreds of thousands of organic impressions. That’s pretty neat, but much of that content was based on a philosophy focused on quality, hence the developing pivot.
Personally, I don’t see this as a good trend. I am the type that prefers reading an Ozy to the Washington Post or the New York Times. Ozy’s content is top notch. Its articles are more in-depth and analytical, and its writers more adept at storytelling. Then again, Ozy is likely a publication you have never heard of, and that is because It only publishes eight pieces of content per day. Despite the fact that those are some of the top eight pieces of content I’ll review each day, the likelihood of Ozy’s survival is slim in a media world trending toward content overload.
My point is, as the strategist in any campaign, keep in mind that you are not likely the target user of the campaign. Accept the fact that you don’t need to fall in love with each piece of content anymore. Though you personally may not want to be flooded with content, millions of others do. If you are running corporate communications, I’d say flood the channel with content next year. It is an investment that will pay off handsomely, provided you are targeting the right audience and can handle the output. However, if you are running a fairly unknown, lifestyle brand (the kind of brands I like) please consider your audience before you do anything, especially with content. One mistake there and that could be all it takes for your niche audience to say adios.