By Joe Pulizzi published November 7, 2016

Does Successful Content Marketing Lead to Rising Stock Prices?


As many of you know, Robert Rose and I have been recording the PNR (Pulizzi and Rose): This Old Marketing podcast every week for three years now. At the end of every episode, we cover a content marketing case study. Some of the case studies are just a few years old, while other examples are well over 100 years old.

A few weeks back, our amazing blog manager Lisa Dougherty told Robert and me that she’d been listening to the podcast as sort of a “stock screener” to find companies to invest in. And from that one email from Lisa, the PNR15 stock portfolio was created.

Now before I dig into what exactly this is, I need to detail a few important points.

First, I am not a certified stock professional and am not recommending that anyone purchase these stocks.  If you happen to buy any of these investments, it’s on you.

Second, no one can prove a direct causal relationship between content marketing and stock prices. I hope to show, though, that delivering valuable, consistent communications to customers over time often corresponds to increases in the overall value of a brand.

Delivering valuable, consistent communications often corresponds to increases in brand value @joepulizzi. Click To Tweet

Third, none of what you are about to look at is scientific in any way. These company examples (and now stocks) have been curated from CMI’s community, from the #ThisOldMarketing listenership, and from Robert and me.

Long story short, this is a first pass. I believe that the way a brand communicates does affect the value of the enterprise, often in ways we can’t measure.  Looking at a public company’s stock price and market capitalization is one significant way to measure long-term value for shareholders. My hope is that, with further scrutiny at a later date, we can field a scientific study based on this simple concept.


Do public companies that consistently deliver valuable communication to customers perform better in stock markets than the average public company?

The PNR15 Stock Portfolio

The PNR15 is made up of 15 publicly traded companies listed on one of the major U.S. stock exchanges. After reviewing over 150 examples over three years, we limited the companies based on these criteria:

  • Must be a large enterprise with at least a $5 billion market cap
  • Must have at least two years of content marketing activity as defined by CMI

From there, we ended up with 15 fairly diverse companies, covering both B2B and B2C brands in a variety of industries including manufacturing, consumer packaged goods, financial, travel and tourism, technology, and health care. The companies included in the index are as follows:

Symbol Name
adbe Adobe
alle Allegion
amtd TD Ameritrade
arw Arrow Electronics
axp American Express
de Deere & Company
gis General Mills
goog Alphabet
intc Intel
intu Intuit
jnj Johnson & Johnson
ko Coca-Cola
mar Marriott International
pg P&G
shw Sherwin-Williams


Overall, the PNR15 outperformed both the S&P 500 Index and Dow 30 in a one-year and a three-year period. One-year PNR15 returns (Oct. 26, 2015, to Oct. 20, 2016) were 5.1% (compared to 3.2% for the S&P and 2.9% for the Dow). Three-year PNR15 returns (Oct. 28, 2013, to Oct. 20, 2016) were 21.6% (compared with 17.7% for the S&P and 13.2% for the Dow).


Under the hood

Below we list each brand in the portfolio, its PNR15 performance, and when it was mentioned on the This Old Marketing podcast or on CMI.

Adobe (ADBE)

One-year performance: 18.5%
Three-year performance: 49.9%
Content marketing example:
First on This Old Marketing: October 17, 2015


Allegion (ALLE)

One-year performance – 4.8%
Three-year performance – 34.6%
Content marketing example:
First on This Old Marketing: July 23, 2016


TD Ameritrade (AMTD)

One-year performance:  7.7%
Three-year performance: 24.5%
Content marketing example: thinkMoney Magazine
First on This Old Marketing: November 22, 2014


Arrow Electronics (ARW)

One-year performance:  4.2%
Three-year performance: 21%
Content marketing example: Arrow Purchases UBM Electronics Properties
First on This Old Marketing: June 29, 2016


American Express (AXP)

One-year performance: -11%
Three-year performance: -23%
Content marketing example: American Express OPEN Forum
First on This Old Marketing: March 28, 2014


Deere & Company (DE)

One-year performance: 10%
Three-year performance: 5.2%
Content marketing example: John Deere’s The Furrow Magazine
First on This Old Marketing: November 23, 2013


General Mills (GIS)

One-year performance: 4.4%
Three-year performance: 17.5%
Content marketing example:
First on This Old Marketing: July 4, 2015


Alphabet/Google (GOOG)

One-year performance: 10.6%
Three-year performance: 35.8%
Content marketing example: Think with Google
First on CMI: November 29, 2015


Intel (INTC)

One-year performance: 2.4%
Three-year performance: 31.3%
Content marketing example: IQ by Intel
First on CMI: September 11, 2012


Intuit (INTU)

One-year performance: 9.3%
Three-year performance: 33.9%
Content marketing example: (owned by Intuit)
First on CMI: July 28, 2011


Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)

One-year performance: 13%
Three-year performance: 18.7%
Content marketing example: Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment
First on This Old Marketing: January 10, 2015


Coca-Cola (KO)

One-year performance: -1.6%
Three-year performance: 5.5%
Content marketing example: Coca-Cola Journey
First on This Old Marketing: December 7, 2013

Marriott International (MAR)

One-year performance: -13.7%
Three-year performance: 32.2%
Content marketing example: Marriott Content Studio
First on This Old Marketing: October 4, 2014


Procter & Gamble (PG)

One-year performance: 8.1%
Three-year performance: 3.7%
Content marketing example: Home Made Simple
First on This Old Marketing: February 15, 2014


Sherwin-Williams (SHW)

One-year performance: 10.4%
Three-year performance:  33%
Content marketing example: Stir
First on This Old Marketing: August 29, 2015


Should we expand the PNR15? What companies should we be talking about on the This Old Marketing podcast? Please let me know in the comments.

And again, invest at your own risk.

Never miss a PNR: This Old Marketing Podcast. Subscribe today to the CMI newsletter and you’ll get the highlights and link every week.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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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  • Bill Widmer

    Haha, Joe, you never cease to impress! This is brilliant.

    I’ve only recently learned what an index fund even was from Tony Robbins book Money: Master The Game. Investing is a fascinating topic once you understand the lingo.

    I love that these have outperformed the major index funds. I want to believe with all my heart that the companies who do content right, who care about their customers and do everything in their power to bring them value, value, value, will succeed in the end over those who don’t. This is just the proof in the pudding.

    Thanks for putting it together, Joe!


    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Bill…well, we can’t claim statistical significance (at this time), but I thought it was interesting as well. I’ll keep working on it.

      • Bill Widmer

        Not yet! I’m sure you’ll find something good, though. Let us know when you do!

  • Roger C. Parker

    Hi, Joe:
    Great idea, well executed.

    You say “a few weeks ago” from Lisa email to today. Care to be more specific? It would be fun to see a detailed timeline/workflow. It might spur a strong “best practices for adding a new project or ‘media’ to your portfolio” blog post, CMWorld presentation, or report.

    Re: Should we expand the PNR15
    You might consider a Top 20 or Top 40 format–just a few more examples, tho. etc.

    More important, how about adding an “industry code” or icon to indicate category, i.e., sector, like transportation, agriculture, financial services, hospitality, etc.?

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Excellent suggestions Roger. On September 14th, Lisa told Robert and I that she bought some stock based on one of our This Old Marketing examples. Robert replied that we should do a PNR Stock Index. On October 21st, I completed and delivered the article to Lisa. Today, we published. 🙂

  • Jason Thibault

    This is amazing Joe! I love this.

    I’m going to go build a new portfolio in Google Finance and keep tracking these. I was having fun tracking James Altucher’s robotics company picks – but now I’m going to build a ‘content marketing’ model.

    Looking forward to any additions down the line.


  • dixie.ovalle

    1 year have passed since I quit my office job and I am so happy now… I started working over internet, for a company I found on-line, for several hrs daily, and I make much more than i did on my office job… My check for last month was for 9k… Superb thing about this job is that i have more free time to spend with my family… KORTA.NU/MDe

  • Sean Williams

    Hi Joe – what would be interesting is to look at stock performance for the years PRIOR to the onset of their content marketing efforts. You’d have to go back maybe 10 years to normalize the results and come up with a median performance indicator. Next, graph the overall performance of say, the S&P500 during that time. Then you could plot the ongoing performance in comparison to those averages. Graph also any extraordinary events to further normalize the results.

    The incremental difference in performance can then be correlated to CM activity more cleanly. But — we still won’t know conclusively whether higher-performing companies adopt CM (that direct correlation), or if CM helped to push the company forward.

    As you say, you’re not claiming causality — but like the Altimeter research from a few years ago that claimed “social” companies performed better, people tend not to pay very close attention to those details.

    Caveat emptor!
    Sean (@commammo)

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Sean…I like it. The issue is, in the case of companies like John Deere, they’ve baked this into their entire company (The Furrow is 120 years old). Sherwin Williams is like 70 years. We’d have to just focus on those companies who recently started to do this. I’ll keep noodling on it.

      • Sean Williams

        Agreed, Joe – I think there’s an appetite for real data on this question, and not just with respect to CM, but including Social Media, internal communications, community relations, CSR, etc. We communicators have gotten away with “trust me” for a long time, and now it’s “In G-d we trust. All others bring data.”

  • Frank Strong

    Fascinating. I’d like to see this sample continue — and get another one from the Russell 2000 or beyond. There’s a gazillion mid-market companies that are publicly traded and masses never heard of — I’d like to track some of those. The lack of faith in content marketing is deeply rooted here. When Gartner says “trough of disillusionment” it’s coming from this category. I bet someone like the Motley Fool would partner with you on it.

  • marylou.olsen

    1 year have passed since I finally quit my old work and that decision was a life changer for me… I started doing work on-line, over a website I found on-line, for a few hrs each day, and I make much more than i did on my office job… Paycheck i got for last month was for 9k… Great thing about this job is that now i have more free time to spend with my family… KORTA.NU/MDe

  • linda.sands

    1 yr ago I left my last work and i couldn’t be happier now… I started doing a job from my house, for a company I found online, few hrs a day, and my income now is much bigger then it was on my last job… Pay-check i got for last month was for Nine thousand bucks… Amazing thing about this gig is that i have more time for my family… CHILP.IT/8d93f4b