By Anthony O’Brien for Professional Planner, 30 April, 2018

Content marketing has been king for several years now, as companies clamour to reach and engage with their target audience.

The ubiquity of content marketing has subsequently created a fierce debate about what represents content and what is real news.

I read with interest a recent university study of PR professionals in the US that demonstrated 64 per cent of survey respondents believe that, within five years, most people will not be able to tell the difference between paid content, such as an advertorial, and real news journalism.

In the era of fake news, the line has unquestionably been blurred, as content and traditional journalism jostle to reach as many eyeballs as possible.

Consistent messaging

content marketing strategy must be part of your arsenal. A valuable approach will have a mix of print, video, graphics and other content tools.

As part of creating a valuable content strategy, what you deliver to your clients must be accurate and have messaging consistency. It must also be appropriately identified as advertising.

The line between content marketing and journalism has been smudged by those companies that produce in-house publications. These print or online publications often mimic the production standards associated with a news publication such as Professional Planner. However, a corporate magazine will subtly label the company as an industry thought leader and plug its products and services.

It is easy to see how this blurs the line between news and content. And as organisations look for new ways to get more eyeballs, the line will continue to be blurred further.

It’s easy to see why a consumer might be increasingly unable to distinguish between news and advertising. That doesn’t, however, make taking advantage of that right or ethical.

Best in both worlds

The savvy businesses are building a content program that engages with traditional media while also developing material to deliver directly to their clients.

There’s no reason why a substantial thought-leadership piece cannot be published as both a blog and in other publications under your by-line. In fact, if you’re not looking to do that, then I think you already need to look at whether you’re maximising your content!

There’s still a need to include public relations in your program. Access to journalists and independent content still has significant value. Traditional media companies, such as News and Fairfax have already adapted to this new world and are providing opportunities to merge content into news pieces.

Remember, whether a journalist quotes you for a news story or you’re writing a blog, consistent messaging is paramount. Ambiguous messaging will ensure your strategy leaves you looking more the palace fool than the content