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The Week in Content Marketing: Do We Have a Credibility Problem?

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

This week, Robert and I discuss Walmart’s big data move and what it means for brands. We also talk about new research indicating that sponsored content may have a trust problem and explore what an article looks like when a freelance writer “resigns” from content marketing. Our rants and raves cover NBA star LeBron James’ digital-only announcement of his return to Cleveland and an inaccurate portrayal of content marketing, and we cap off the show with a #ThisOldMarketing example from Credit Suisse.

This week’s show

(Recorded live on July 14, 2014; Length: 59:56)

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1. Content Marketing in the News

  • Walmart’s Plan to Buy Media for Its Suppliers (3:32): According to AdAge, retailing colossus Walmart recently launched the Walmart Exchange, or WMX, which its executives bill as a digital targeting, buying, and optimization platform. Effectively, the company is looking to become a media agency, as content and social media services will also be offered to suppliers. Robert and I discuss the forces that are motivating this move, how content fits into the picture, and the significant advantages WMX will offer to suppliers.
  • Sponsored Content Is Losing Trust and Lacks Transparency (13:05): According to new research conducted by Contently, 54 percent of readers don’t trust sponsored content and 59 percent believe a news site loses credibility if it runs articles sponsored by a brand. Robert and I think there may be a bigger problem at work here (which this survey doesn’t address). However, we were pleasantly surprised by the excellent perceived credibility of print publications, which CMI has experienced firsthand with our own Chief Content Officer magazine.
  • Is Content Being Demoted From King to Joker? (22:03): Amy Westervelt, an automotive industry journalist, has penned a thoughtful letter announcing her “resignation” from the world of content marketing. In this, she shares her experiences as a ghostwriter for CEOs and brands, and her opinion that journalism has been co-opted in the process. Robert and I discuss how her experience has been negatively colored by a bigger issue — one that wasn’t mentioned in her article.
  • How to Land a Spot in the Top 5 Percent of Bloggers (33:53): Orbit Media recently surveyed 1,000 bloggers to learn more about the preferred times, places, and processes they employ to produce content. Among the findings: The majority of bloggers invest between one and two hours writing each post, and post frequency is all over the map. We share our thoughts on the factor that Orbit identifies as the key to blogging success (hint: It’s not frequency of blog posts), and highly recommend an additional practice that this survey doesn’t address.
  • Are Media Companies Shirking Their Responsibility to Advertisers? (42:25): Media companies are not doing enough to help advertisers distribute and share content amid the content marketing boom, according to BuzzFeed’s VP of Advertising, Will Hayward. We present our argument for why the average media company can’t do everything BuzzFeed does, and propose a related strategy that media platforms should employ to provide greater value to their advertising clients.

2. Sponsor (45:47)

  • 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: Email Marketing for the Shrinking Attention Span. You can download it at

example-8 second challenge

3. Rants and Raves (47:02)

  • My Rave: I was impressed to see basketball phenomenon LeBron James using a column on the Sports Illustrated website to explain why he’s leaving Miami, returning to Cleveland, and rejoining the Cavaliers basketball team. By explaining his thought process in writing, he reduces the media’s ability to take his words out of context —something that happens all the time with video. It’s a beautiful way for LeBron to start telling his new story.
  • Robert’s Rant: In this ZDNet article, well-respected Silicon Valley journalist Tom Foremski asserts that brands need to act like media companies, but shouldn’t just talk about themselves 24/7. However, he doesn’t present an accurate picture of content marketing and its strategies; rather, he suffers from a misunderstanding that Robert clears up in his rant.

4. This Old Marketing Example of the Week (55:10)

  • Credit Suisse: This bank launched a publication, called Bulletin in 1895. This makes it the oldest periodical published by a bank anywhere in the world. Robert and I agree that one of the things that makes it remarkable is its well-written mission statement, which clearly defines who its audience members are and the value it provides to them. The publication’s high-quality content is focused on financial issues and trends that are of interest to its audience — rather than focusing on Credit Suisse itself. The Bulletin is also transparent on who produces it: an external team of professional journalists at Credit Suisse’s communications agency.

bulletin-gray-haired woman-young man-what lasts

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

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