In their book, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, authors Al and Laura Ries use an Aesop fable to show that “Advertising is the wind, but Public Relations is the sun” In the fable, the wind and sun compete for who is the most powerful. The wind tries to blow a coat off a man but fails, however when the sun shines, the man simply takes off his coat, highlighting that while advertising (the wind) tries to use force, PR uses suggestion and influence.
Fast forward 15 years since the book was published and the marketing landscape is a whole lot different. Advertising and PR are still important, but it has been the rise and rise of content marketing that is truly having the most impact. In a way, content marketing is simply making PR more customer-centric and using stories and information to influence buying decisions.
In an article looking at content marketing trends for 2018, Rebecca Lieb, an Analyst at Altimeter Group, and author of Content - The Atomic Particle of Marketing highlights the importance of content marketing.
“No marketing is possible without content. Social media doesn't work without content, and neither does paid advertising. If there wasn't content ... all you'd have would be empty squares and rectangles and blank video.
“Once you begin to view content as the starting point for all marketing efforts, you can more appropriately map the right content to the right stage of the buyer journey.
“Without content, not a thing moves forward in the entire marketing landscape. That's why I call it the atomic particle. It's one of the building blocks.”
Stories have always helped us connect and as we have evolved, each new communication platform creates opportunities and challenges, especially for brands.
“Brands have learned that promoting themselves doesn’t work. Ultimately it’s the stories that allow brands to connect with their audience. The future of marketing is extreme customer-centricity.
Brands have to stop promoting themselves and create content that people actually want to consume,” said Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy at NewsCred.
“Social media is not a strategy. It is one of the channels we use to consume content and connect with people. It is the evolution of what started with the dawn of the internet and the move to digital, mobile and cloud-based systems of communications. These are just the pipes. Content is the fuel.”
Creative Directors were once the cool kids in agency land, followed by the marketing strategy team and the creative designers. But with every facet of marketing more and more relying on content marketing for success, and needing to draw upon their skills and creativity, perhaps the content marketers are the real rock stars of the agency.