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This Week in Content Marketing: Beck Schools Us on Storytelling

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

In this episode, Robert and I discuss a musician’s mad content marketing moves, debate some potential causes of a decline in content quality, and reveal what the real purpose of native advertising is for brands. In addition, we discuss two shifts in the world of social media and take FourSquare to task for taking off in a new direction. This week’s #ThisOldMarketing example: Galignani Publishing (our oldest example to date).

This week’s show

(Recorded live on July 28, 2014; Length: 1:00:16)

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1. Content Marketing in the News

  • Beck Continues a Story Arc — and Teaches Us a Content Marketing Lesson in the Process (4:11): Two years ago, musical artist Beck released a new album, Song Reader — but only as sheet music. He then invited other artists to interpret and record his songs, and followed this with a concert tour in which he and a variety of artists performed the songs. According to this article on, Beck is now releasing his own recorded version of the album, taking his story arc one step further. Robert and I discuss the lessons content marketers can learn from this brilliant long-term content initiative.
  • Are There Flaws in Forrester’s Content Marketing Report? (16:11): Forrester’s new report on content marketing claims B2B content fails to engage prospects and current customers because marketing teams delegate too much content production to low-level staffers or agency partners and freelancers. Robert and I disagree with the points raised in a CMSWire article on the study and reveal what we think is the real reason content quality is suffering.
  • Unbalanced Risks and Rewards From Using Native Advertising (25:02): ZDNet reports on a new study by the IAB and Edelman, which shows that, while brands may benefit from native ads appearing on highly trusted media sites, the reputations of those media sites may suffer from carrying them. Robert and I agree that brand marketers can benefit tremendously from running native ads — they’re a great way to “steal” audience from publishers — but we also offer a few caveats that they should be aware of.
  • Content Marketing Plays Role for Aon (32.54): According to this AdAge article, content marketing is a key component of Aon’s sponsorship of the Manchester United soccer team, as the reinsurance company is using it to target corporate HR and risk managers who are soccer fans. Robert and I discuss what makes Aon’s strategy serve as an excellent example for companies that are just getting started with their own content marketing initiatives.
  • The Rise of Social Shopping (38:02): Robert and I explored two articles this week: The first is from TheMediaBriefing and describes how a growing number of social media channels are putting micropayment infrastructures in place to make it easier for consumers to buy products. Should this trend get applied to purchases of articles or site subscriptions, it could potentially shift transactions away from publisher websites, which would have a negative impact on ad impressions and revenue. I share my take on what publishers need to do to survive.
  • Changing Social Strategies (42:51): The second article is by Jay Baer at Convince & Convert, and talks about the vast difference between potential and reliable reach of content on social media channels. Jay advises marketers to post more messages in more places in hopes of reaching more people, and encourage them to follow your brand on multiple channels — an assessment that Robert agrees with, adding his thoughts on what else brands need to do to make this strategy successful.

2. Sponsor (47:21)

  • This Old Marketing is, once again, sponsored by Emma — email marketing for the modern brand, featuring mobile-responsive templates, social integration tools and concierge services. Emma is promoting a new webinar entitled The 8-Second Challenge: E-mail Marketing for the Shrinking Attention Span. You can download it at

example-8 second challenge

3. Rants and Raves (48:41)

  • Robert’s Rave: Robert gives high praise to Thought Leadership Strategy: A 3-Step Framework for Influencer Outreach, an article by Stephanie Beadell that recently appeared on the CMI website. It provides a clear, concise process for designing an effective influencer outreach campaign. He highly recommends it.
  • My Rant: While golfing last weekend, I was disappointed to find I was no longer able to use FourSquare to check in to my location. Instead, I was instructed to download and install a sister app, Swarm, for this task. This spurred me to do some research to learn what’s changed at FourSquare. According to this NPR article, check-ins have been relegated to Swarm, while the original FourSquare app will now focus on providing reviews and recommendations for locations — similar to what Yelp is now doing. I think FourSquare is making a monumental mistake here, and I explain why.

4. This Old Marketing Example of the Week (53:00)

  • Galignani: This week’s example now holds the record for the oldest one we’ve found. Galignani claims to be the first English bookstore established on the European content. It was founded in 1801 to meet the needs of English speakers in Paris. According to this excellent LinkedIn article by Scott Aughtmon, Galignani has employed some very creative content strategies to grow its business, including opening a reading room for people who want to learn English. It also launched an English newspaper that featured articles from influential authors like Wordsworth and Byron, and published books by these literary giants, as well. The tie-ins among these different initiatives are simply brilliant — especially considering they were accomplished in the early 1800s!

bookstore image-galignani cover

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

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