This is the fourth post in a series called Interviews at Content Hero, where we chat to industry leaders, influencers and agencies about content marketing and how it can affect success.
Today we are chatting to John Miller, the founder and president of Scribewise, an outsourced newsroom which produces incredible articles surrounding content marketing, strategy, and PR, which businesses can use to develop powerful campaigns.
Tell us about Scribewise, you’ve grown considerably since launching in 2012?
We launched the company because we wanted to help businesses and organizations become media companies. We believe – and have seen – that most businesses will never be able to execute their content strategy internally; certainly some do, but it’s always going to be someone’s second highest priority in most organizations… it’ll never rise to the top. As former journalists, creating high quality content is exactly what we do, every day. So we are the content creation engine for our clients. We help them set their content strategy, build an editorial calendar, and then act as journalists, conducting research, interviewing sources and developing audience-focused content. We deliver the content to our clients, and then also layer public relations and social media on top of the content to give it wider exposure.
Business has been very good; we’ve almost tripled in the past year, and are forecasting to double in size in 2014.
Scribewise is a prime example of a website with a targeted niche. How important do you think it is for brands to find their sweet spot?
We believe strongly in the power of content marketing, so our website is designed to be its own media outlet. We produce a steady stream of content to help marketers do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. We’re never selling our services; just trying to instigate a good conversation. What we do for ourselves is what we think all of our clients (and pretty much all organizations) should be doing – creating high-quality content that the audience devours. The content builds a trust and it builds a relationship. It makes a sale much more likely.
To do this, an organization needs to understand what it’s all about. This begins as a branding question before it segues to content marketing. It’s critical for a brand to know what it stands for, and it’s shocking how many don’t – for instance, they might think they exist to sell a lot of donuts, but they really exist to delight customers. Once you ascend to that higher plane – one occupied by emotion rather than widget-selling – you build a much better connection with the audience. To me, that’s the sweet spot brands need to know about themselves.
From there, it’s wise to expand outward, to create as big an umbrella as possible. The broader topic you create content about, the broader your audience, and the more likely you are to become part of their daily content consumption habit.
You recently said in one of your blog posts that ‘pivot’ is the most important word in a marketers vocabulary for 2014. Still stand by that?
I do. Things are changing so fast that you can’t have set-in-stone plans. I guarantee that there will be some new exciting social network in 2014, that Google, Facebook or Twitter will make a dramatic move that will change what marketers do, and that customers will continue to become smarter and more advanced. Think about this – in January of this year, Vine did not exist, keywords were not encrypted and Facebook wasn’t running auto-play ads (which has to be a joke, right?).
Marketers today have to be supremely aware of whatever new is coming, and they need to be ready to pivot as the context in which they operate changes.
How strong is the link between content marketing and PR?
They go hand-in-hand; I’d say content marketing is the next-gen of PR. As Jay Baer says, you need to market your marketing. There are a bunch of ways to do that – SEO, social media, PR, etc. Public relations might just be the best, for all the reasons PR has always been such a strong brand-builder – you’re gaining access to someone else’s audience, and most media delivers a sense of credibility that raises your value in the eyes of that audience.
Interestingly, we have more success with our clients placing audience-focused content for them with media outlets than we do with news releases. News releases just aren’t as credible as they used to be; they’re still a tool that should be utilized, but they don’t have as much impact as they did just a few years ago.
2014 is almost upon us. What tips do you have for brands?
Stop talking about your brand. And drink more coffee; we’re gonna’ be busy.
Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars. I like to think The Force is strong with this one.