Screw the Media. BE the Media!

Posted on 17 April 2013

“Screw the media. BE the media!”

That was the most quotable quote and memorable message by Mark Ragan at the Content Marketing Boot Camp in New York City on February 12, 2013.

I won a ticket to attend that one-day event because I was one of the winners of a competition on Twitter. Mark, the CEO of PR Daily and also the CEO and Publisher of, was the trainer – follow him on Twitter: @MarkRaganCEO. He shared lots of practical tips and case studies, and I met some wonderful marketing, corporate communications and PR professionals from around America (I was the only participant from outside America).

Mark Ragan

If you haven’t heard of Content Marketing before, here’s the definition from the Content Marketing Institute: “Content Marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” It’s about compelling storytelling rather than pushy sales messages, and it’s about enabling your customers and employees to share their stories.

Of course I can’t reveal everything that Mark told us at the event, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Don’t sell or pitch. Content Marketing is all about THEM (the audience), not you.
  • Be entertaining, useful and relevant. Your content must be: targeted, easily shareable, discoverable, measured and analyzed, strategic, consistent, frequent, free of corporate-speak and jargon, brief and to the point, and something that people want to keep and share.
  • Never bore people!
  • The benefits of Content Marketing include: thought leadership, increased visibility, wider reach, more word-of-mouth publicity, more sales/revenue, and more credibility (apparently 70% of customers prefer to get to know a company via articles rather than ads).
  • Think and behave like a journalist/editor/publisher (even if you’re just a one-person band). Set up your own newsroom to create and distribute your own content via multiple online and offline channels. (I recently came across this example of a bank in Denmark that has done that: “How Brand Content Helped Transform a Bank into a Media Master” by Joe Pulizzi.)
  • Make it easy for your customers and employees to create and submit content.
  • Curate other people’s content, and make it relevant to your audience by adding your own unique voice, opinion and personality. For a fraction of the cost of advertising, you can become the most trusted source of content about your industry.
  • Banish the silos between your Marketing, Advertising and PR departments – integration is key, and everybody in the company (not just the communications professionals) needs to be involved. One company that’s very good at that is Southwest Airlines – see its “Nuts About Southwest” blog.
  • Just one of the many examples that Mark told us about was that of Dr Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a charismatic and highly credible advocate and educator about children’s health. She’s very active on social media, with her own blog and twitter account (@SeattleMamaDoc). The hospital does not vet her social media posts – they trust her. Results: 250,000 people on her blog; 700,000 blog page views; 500 media placements; 12,000 Twitter followers; 40 speaking engagements.
  • And what about measurement? Mark spoke about how he and his team-members are obsessive about checking their metrics every day, and quickly adjusting the content they produce, and where and how they publish it, based on the results they see. One useful tool he recommended is Alexa, which enables you to track who is visiting your website.

A visiting guest speaker at the Boot Camp, Mindy Mizell (@mindymizell on Twitter), Media Relations Director of World Vision in the U.S., shared an inspiring case study of how she produced on-the-fly news videos in Ethiopia, with very simple equipment. The videos helped World Vision raise US$1 million in donations. Her message: “Start somewhere, and measure the results as you go.”

I even had the opportunity to perform at the Boot Camp! I told an improvised story incorporating random words suggested by the workshop participants, and they loved it.

And finally, here’s a related blog post by me, “The Story of Content Marketing”, a simple seven-line story with pictures.

The lesson: Content Marketing means you don’t have to depend on the traditional media to reach your customers – it’s all about thinking and behaving like a journalist/editor/publisher to create and distribute stories that get results for your business.

Action step: Start somewhere!

No responses yet. You could be the first!

Leave a Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Spotlight on Marketing is proudly powered by WordPress and the SubtleFlux theme.

Copyright © Spotlight on Marketing.