Girish Mhatre was at one time the Grand Poobah at EE Times (editor in chief, that is) in the publication's print heyday. He's made some valuable comment on this blog this year regarding the trend toward content marketing and branded content. He dropped me a note today that serves as an excellent introduction to a new series we are developing here called "Why CEO's should be scared s(p)itless about their content. I offer Girish's observations without comment... for now. ;)
Girish Mhatre, journalist and wine enthusiast
Hi Lou, prompted by a conversation with you, I’ve conducted an informal survey of company content strategies. Here are some observations: I must say that I don’t get it. If this is the state of the art in content marketing by tech companies, then it’s not very effective -- with one exception.
Cadence: I am hugely unimpressed. Perhaps Fuller hasn’t got his arms around a strategy yet (Note: Girish is right. Met with Fuller this week and, he says he's still trying to get his arms around it.), but, as it stands now, it’s simple, straightforward, uninteresting reporting, one step above “backgrounders” that might accompany press releases. The best thing that could be said about this section is that it is inoffensive. And, there’s not a single reader comment on any of their articles. I kept wondering why this section even exists.
Altera: Ron Wilson’s bailiwick at Altera seems better defined. “We hope to bring you the latest thinking on the key challenges in the real world: defining system requirements, making architectural decisions, planning for implementation and—especially—verification, and estimating and measuring system performance.”
All to the good. Ron writes in-depth, dense, technical analyses, as is his wont, but there’s no indication that it’s being noticed. (Ron used to call it as he saw it, so I wonder how he likes hewing to the company line.) Again, there are no user comments. I suspect that in both these cases, “engagement’ remains elusive. (At least as measured by reader comments.)
Digikey’s been adding custom content from Publitek and Electronic Products. But it is buried so deep within the site that I doubt it’s doing any good.
Also looked at OracleVoice on Forbes (Alex Wolfe now writing there) and the IBM sponsored content on The Atlantic. The IBM thing is slightly more interesting because it is more expansive. The Oracle thing is simply weird; I found it superficial boosterism: “Isn’t-technology-wonderful-especially-if-you-are-an-Oracle-customer” kind of thing,
Question: where do these company editors reside within the corporate hierarchy? In marcom, or elsewhere? Also, how are their contributions (effectiveness) measured? Perhaps it’s too early to establish.
Now for the exception: Qualcomm Spark (http://spark.qualcomm.com/) is going in the right direction. This is a real, apparently well-funded effort to create something informative, engaging and valuable. It needs to be edgier, though.
It’s not as if content marketing is new. It’s been around since the dawn of time, spanning many generations of media technology. But it’s not a matter of hiring a couple of journalists. There has to be a content publishing strategy, no?
Yes, Girish, there needs to be a strategy. Working on that for next week. Stay tuned for Why CEOs should be scared s(p)itless about content.