For some years now, media headhunters like us have been advising clients – banks, retailers, charities, FMCG companies – that they have to start thinking like media businesses. After all, if you are Barclays, your competitors are no longer just HSBC or NatWest. They are Money Supermarket, The Motley Fool, InvestorsChronicle.co.uk, Wonga.com, and a host of others. These are media entities; and you have to compete for attention on an equal basis.
In the Harvard Business Review last November, David Edelman from McKinsey posed the question: who is your brand’s editor-in-chief? It was prescient. Several major multinationals have since gone into the market to find new people to head up their editorial proposition. Last week, Procter & Gamble laid off some marketing people after their CEO gave an interview contrasting the effectiveness – and cost – of social media with that of traditional advertising. And Mothercare has just appointed former LoveFilm boss as its new CEO: a “new media” appointment for one of the High Street’s best known brands.
It is not just consumer–facing businesses that need to compete in this way. Companies that service businesses have to be there too. A survey cited by eSocialMedia showed that 73% of senior managers will no longer take a cold call; and that 92% of them would rather trust their own research than the word of a salesman. And where do they conduct that research? Online. B2B solutions providers have to manage their own image in exactly the same way as FMCG companies.
There is a temptation to think of this as old-fashioned PR, but this goes way beyond that. In his blog, Edelman cites four different publishing approaches that companies typically use – Mass Publisher, Problem Solver, Social Engineer, or Personal Concierge. His conclusion? Brands must “publish, or perish.” Have a look: it’s instructive.
Nonetheless, even this limits the true value of content marketing as a tool. The social media revolution, and the availability of easy to use technology, will mean that there are fewer and fewer boundaries. As the digital world develops – and media skills become more routine – video, blogging, tweeting, podcasts, slide sharing, and other media not yet dreamt of, will have their part to play. And every successful company will need to have someone to oversee all these content feeds. An Editor-in-Chief, in fact.
We are all media companies now. Welcome to our world.
PS. While gathering the links for this, I saw that Andy Soloman has written about the same phenomenon – also quoting Edelman’s blog – on eSocialMedia’s website. Link here.