• Brands become media - the new phenomenon

  • According to Mashable:  Platforms such as YouTube, WordPress and Twitter have made it easier and more affordable than ever for brands to create and distribute their own content, thereby becoming media companies in their own right. Brands are investing accordingly — whether they’re hiring editors, producers and social media managers, or expanding the roles of their existing teams — to create editorial, visual, audio and other kinds of content.

    Fashion label Tory Burch, for instance, hired away InStyle editor Honor Brodie to run its blog, awarding her the title of editor in chief — a first for the brand. Brodie has used the blog to transform the label, which was previously known almost solely for an iconic line of medallion-stamped ballet flats, into a full-fledged lifestyle brand. Brodie and her team post profiles of interesting people (authors, philanthropists, artists, bloggers, etc.), places and things on a daily basis.

    “Several years ago, I noticed that a lot of style-conscious women were searching the web for both content and a retail fix,” Brodie says. “The laptop was competing for attention with TV and fashion magazines as a way to entertain and inspire. In this new world, it seemed to me that brands could become a trusted destination for content,” she recalls.

    Toryburch.com is now a site, Brodie says (and we agree), “where content and commerce work together in a very twenty-first century way.”

    In similar fashion, online retailer Net-a-porter has created a magazine that blends entertainment with e-commerce, while WEBS, the largest independent retailer of knitting, crocheting and weaving supplies, has used an informative podcast series to drive sales on its website.

    In addition to lifestyle content, brands are often electing to announce new products or hiring decisions via their Twitter accounts and blogs, rather than through (or in addition to) formal press releases distributed to individual editors and presswires. Google and Twitter announce many of their new products that way, sometimes even setting press embargoes in time with the publication of their own social media posts. And Lady Gaga premiered her latest music video not through VH1 or MTV, but on Vevo.

    This trend has important implications for all businesses because it places control of publishing valuable information relating to the company, its products and services directly in the hands of the company itself.  No longer do they need to rely solely on third party media for the dissemination of information – they can do it themselves, provided they have the knowledge, expertise and tools to make this happen.

    So what are the implications of this change?

    Firstly consumers or buyers need to be aware of this change because they cannot automatically assume that the information they are now receiving is independent and without bias – like the independent media organizations historically could offer.

    Secondly, choice becomes more complicated to evaluate as consumers will need to search much harder for independent competitive information.

    Finally, from the business perspective, control of the message becomes an almost overriding desire and content is king.  How will this detract from the businesses focus if being a media outlet is not their core business?

    To most businesses out there: be careful following this trend blindly just because it is happening.  You should evaluate carefully whether it is for you first, before adopting it as a strategy.  It is time consuming and takes plenty of resources.  Make a strategic marketing decision and don’t get caught up in the bright lights it may first appear to offer.  Think it through logically and if you would like some help in evaluating where it fits within your marketing efforts, take the SMART Marketing approach.

    Article by Neville Pokroy, with thanks to Mashable for the introduction