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This Week in Content Marketing: Is Corporate Blogging Waning?

pnr logoPNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this episode, Robert and I reflect on Tribune Publishing’s decision to invest in a content marketing shop, review a horrible example of native advertising from a personal injury law firm, and question the accuracy of new research that shows corporate support for blogging is waning. We also praise a thoughtful article on the opportunities that podcasting offers to marketers, rant about a questionable strategy for managing digital and offline marketing, and rave about a presentation with a refreshing take on the challenges involved in native advertising. We answer a listener’s question on the ecommerce ambitions of Twitter and Facebook before closing out the show with a #ThisOldMarketing example from Steve Jackson Games. 

This week’s show

(Recorded live on September 22, 2014; Length: 58:45)

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1. Content Marketing in the News

  • Tribune Plants a Content Marketing Flag (5:16): An article on AdAge reports that newspaper giant Tribune Publishing has taken a minority stake in Contend, a content-marketing shop that makes videos for advertisers. This acquisition will enable it to offer a broader range of native advertising services to its advertisers. The article claims that publishers buying agencies is a new trend, but that’s not the case. Robert and I set the record straight, and share several concerns about Tribune’s approach and the mindset of many agencies, which still isn’t as strategic as it should be.
  • Personal Injury Lawyers Are Going Native (14:41): According to AdAge, a UK-based personal-injury law firm recently sponsored two stories on MailOnline, the website of The Daily Mail newspaper. Unfortunately, the ad Robert and I reviewed is so bad that it may become a poster child for all the reasons native advertising might fail. I share my concerns about how it could erode trust in MailOnline’s brand, and Robert concurs, emphasizing that publishers need to hold native ad placements to the same high standard that they would their editorial content.
  • Is Blogging on the Decline for the Fortune 500? (22:57): For the first time in seven years, the use of corporate blogs among the Fortune 500 has declined, according to a new report published by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. At the same time, MarketingLand reports that corporate use of social channels is on the rise, with Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest showing significant gains. Robert shares some serious concerns he has about the accuracy of these findings, while I explain why these statistics are nearly meaningless anyway.
  • Podcasting and Audio: Poised for Content Marketing Greatness? (29:30): This thoughtful article on the Business2Community website does a great job of explaining why podcasting is an excellent medium for driving deeper audience engagement. Robert and I discuss the close relationship that has developed between This Old Marketing and its audience, and offer some guidance on determining whether podcasting would be a good way for your business to communicate with its audience.

2. Sponsor (34:31)

  • This week, This Old Marketing is being sponsored by Emma — email marketing for the modern brand, featuring mobile-responsive templates, social integration tools and concierge services. Emma is promoting a new service called One Great Idea. Send them a link to your email marketing campaign, and they’ll send you one totally doable tip for better results next time. You can register for it at


3. Rants and Raves (35:56)

  • Robert’s Rant: In this blog post on, Mei Lee, Vice President of Marketing-Digital at Condé Nast Entertainment, outlines five ways marketing needs to change to function effectively in the digital age. Robert totally agrees with most of her recommendations — until she proclaims that organizations ought to adopt a digital-first strategy. Robert explains the problem with this line of thinking. 
  • Joe’s Rave: Digiday reports on a presentation by the Wall Street Journal‘s Global Head of Advertising Sales, Trevor Fellows, in which he offers a refreshing take on what’s involved in creating effective native advertising. I share the reasons why I think this is a realistic portrayal of the native advertising landscape, and recap some of my favorite takeaways from his discussion, including where publishers’ responsibilities lie.

4. Listener question (46:00)

  • Brianna Kuplent asks: Twitter and Facebook seem to be moving in the direction of ecommerce. Will this compromise their effectiveness as platforms for storytelling, brand building, and cultivating relationships with customers? Robert and I talk about what we feel is the primary strength of Twitter — and it isn’t customer relationship building. We do concede, though, that the role it should play depends upon your organization’s goals.

5. This Old Marketing Example of the Week (51:47)

  • Steve Jackson Games: This developer of board and role-playing games is credited with publishing one of the first-ever corporate blogs on the web, The Daily Illuminator, in 1994. It has been publishing new posts about its games and other developments in the gaming industry almost every day for 20 years. A quick review of its content reveals that most posts are informative and helpful. The blog also offers a complete archive of every post since it launched in November 1994. Hats off to Steve Jackson for 20 years of blogging!

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For a full list of the PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page. 

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