By Joe Pulizzi published August 4, 2011

Like It or Not, Your Content Marketing Is Channel Agnostic

What does agnostic marketing mean?

Alan Maites uses this definition:

“We make marketing decisions impartially, without inherent bias for or against any one kind of communications channel – TV, print, online, direct mail, etc.”

Okay, makes sense right?  Well, how about content marketing agnostic?

I would say the definition runs something like this:

“We make content marketing channel decisions impartially, focusing on the needs of the customer and our marketing goals, not focusing on the channels we are comfortable with or have traditionally used.  In addition, instead of focusing on the channel, we focus first on the story, and how that story should be told differently and most effectively through any and all channels available to maximize impact, engagement and results.”

Recently, I’ve stumbled across three examples of this in corporate and traditional journalism that might be helpful.

The Practice of Content Marketing Cannot Be Siloed

I gave this presentation at the Email Marketing Insider conference a few months back.

My biggest takeaway was this: the majority of email marketers at this conference did NOT have processes set up to integrate between departments when it comes to content marketing.  The email folks had a content person.  The social media folks had a content person.  PR had their own sets of content people.  Unfortunately, these folks relatively talked, and email focused on email, social on social and PR on PR.

What’s happened is we’ve built in components of content creation within the silos that have been constructed over (in some cases) decades within an organization. How can we tell our story when it’s clearly fragmented to the end user and no one is responsible for the strategic vision when it comes to content marketing (see Chief Content Officer)?

The Video Journalist Is Dead

All you video journalists out there may take offense, but this is a true statement.  Calling someone a video journalist is like calling someone a blogging journalist or an email journalist.  A journalist is a journalist, regardless of channel.

This hit home in a tour of the NewsNet5 Studios today in Cleveland.  What hit home on the tour was the fact that anyone working on a story could be working on any channel and any time…blogging, email, video shoots, behind the camera, in-person presentations, etc.  Their journalists are trained in the art of storytelling regardless of channel.  First is understanding what the story is, and then we decide how we can properly tell that story to get the proper outcomes.

The New Editorial Process in Born

New Publishing Model

The above image comes courtesy of Dan McCarthy.

The idea is this.  Corporate or traditional publishers must change their content generation process. Instead of just a content output of a print story, content creators deliver content throughout the process – tweets, photos, podcasts, content packages, etc.  Instead of one output, there may be 10, 20, or even 30 pieces of content. Readers are interested in being more involved in your brand. This opens up the hood, and lets your readers in.

In the past, we focused on the output (i.e., a story in the Wall Street Journal perhaps).  Today, we still focus on the story, but the outputs are many, and the content is generated and engaged in throughout the storytelling process.

What Does this All Mean?

  1. Someone in the organization has to be responsible to move beyond the marketing department silos.
  2. Jay Baer recently made the comparison between social media and the age of typing rooms (ala Mad Men). Remember the days when big organizations needed armies of typing specialists?  Do you see those anymore?  Nope. Jay states that we are at that point with social media.  Right now we need social media specialists.  In the future, we’ll all know how to do this, like we all know how to type today.  This idea of being content marketing agnostic is the same way.  As we become more comfortable with this concept, we’ll start to tell our stories more easily and effectively through all these channels.  Until then, we need TRAINING.
  3. Those that get this, and actively engage in storytelling techniques in this fashion, will have a significant competitive advantage over another organization not storytelling in this way.

It’s interesting what one tour conjures up.  What say you?

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • andrew

    I think our approach to content must be channel agnostic, but the content itself must be tailored for that specific channel (see Brains on Fire recent post

    You’re right that the silos need to be bridged (if not busted) and that content must have the agility to be channel agnostic (think Bruce Lee’s take on water), but the messaging must be tailored to the channel.

    On that note, I think we’ll still have delivery specialists – people who know how to communicate best via a channel. The content itself may all come from a unified team, but the delivery is going to have to be altered based on the channel you are using.

    Otherwise, we’re asking people to be an expert at everything, which is not feasible in a sustainable way.

  • Ann Danylkiw

    Whilst I agree that a journalist is a journalist (marketing/PR pro is a PR pro) and we have to have skills across mediums we still do need to remember that audience and opportunities (thus types) of interactions vary across mediums. You cannot separate form from content, these work in a feedback loop, and content needs to be specific for the medium and the audience and type of interactions that those enable.

    • Koozai Mike

      It’s also worryingly easy for someone to say they are a ‘journalist’. Even a blogger could throw the term around without any real experience. So be careful who you hire for content marketing, as a lot of people are ruining the term,

  • http://OpenViewLabs Brendan Cournoyer

    A nice point made by Jay. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but I totally agree. I worked at a publishing company with 90+ editors on staff, but only a few were really good at social media. The rest were mostly lost/uninterested, and it resulted in a lot of missed opportunities for their content.

    Fast-forward to my current job, where we recently lost our resident social media guru to a new opportunity, leaving many on the team forced to catchup to what she was doing. But even while she was here, I remember thinking that every company I talk to would benefit greatly from having someone like her on staff — a fact that’s even more evident now.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    You bring up some good points. All content marketing channels need to be integrated. If they’re not, that can result in mixed messaging and a diluted brand.