To a great extent, marketing and especially public relations has always included content generation as a key ingredient for every aspect of the marketing toolkit. But the past decade, the 2010s, has catapulted the importance and value of content to what is easily the highest level in the history of marketing.
Just ten years ago, our prevailing belief was that four-year-old Twitter, six-year-old Facebook and 12-year-old Google were doing a pretty impressive job of providing us with information and connections of real value. Today, it feels naïve to view Big-Tech as our altruistic and beneficent partner. But as marketers, we must tip our hats to these companies as genius masters of content and its targeted delivery.
By this end of the 2010s, we find ourselves routinely seduced by the irresistible siren song of well-worded search results and ads that are so perfectly suited to us that the phenomenon is often described as “creepy.” I too succumb to the allure of a clever headline or a perfectly targeted and worded advertisement. I too capitulate, and I’m someone who understands the entire mechanism by which I am being so urgently and compellingly influenced.
This phenomenon will only intensify as algorithms exponentially improve in the coming years, with true AI ultimately handling the heavy lifting of content targeting. As the natural stewards of content, PR professionals must recognize and understand these weapons with scrupulous care. Within our role as the engine behind content creation for our clients, we assume the responsibility both for journalistic integrity and marketing efficacy.
To paraphrase James Carville, “It’s the content, stupid.” Everything we do in marketing boils down to being strategists for delivering messages through the content we create. And to be effective, today’s content must be deliberately crafted to form an indelible connection with human emotions. Content must be replete with clear and incisive messages that will cause changes in the market’s belief systems, and therefore changes in the market’s behavior.
Going forward, content in every form must be viewed strictly through the lens of delivering a company’s strategic messaging and driving search results. Those two pillars of content generation must be embraced as challenges that are answered with a simultaneous blend of out-of-the-box hyper-creativity (or just eliminate the damn box altogether) and precision wordsmithing that perfects both the narrative itself, and the search performance that results.
Posing perhaps the biggest challenge of the last ten years for marketers everywhere, but especially for agencies, development of this kind of impactful content became an elevated, non-trivial art form. Consequently, in the 2010s, many agencies came face to face with the uncomfortable truth that it is exceedingly difficult to find truly excellent and effective writers.
My advice to anyone practicing PR and marketing, or considering a career in these fields, is to focus on three things: writing, writing and writing. The ability to communicate effectively and to captivate audiences transcends every technology advancement, including all the new mediums in which we tell our clients’ stories. In the 2020s, the decade in front of us now, the King is dead – content can no longer be considered king. The reality is that for PR professionals in the 2020s, content is God.