Content Marketing – just the latest buzz word?


Content marketing has become one of the most popular themes discussed in digital strategies of late.

But is it just jargon? The latest buzz-word? Something to impress clients?

There’s no doubt that we in Public Relations love our jargon. If we’re not impressing you with “end-users” and “brand evangelists”, we’re confusing you with “influencers”, “cross-pollination” and “SoLoMo” (don’t get me started on the last one!)

Essentially, content is “owned media”: the blogs, research, speeches, websites, videos and other content a company creates. Content marketing is simply bringing that owned media together in a cohesive plan which targets a specific audience to achieve a specific outcome.

In that respect, content marketing is new in nothing more than name. The content marketing industry itself has been around for well over 100 years. John Deere is often credited as the pioneer with their publication, The Furrow, which was originally developed (in print) in 1895.

Content marketing guru Joe Pulizzi from the Content Marketing Institute recently published an infographic called The History of Content Marketing that covers the topic from cave paintings through to the present day.

A buzzword is defined as ‘an important-sounding usually technical word or phrase often of little meaning used chiefly to impress laymen’. In that sense, the term doesn’t fit the definition, because it does actually have meaning. However, if you mention content marketing to any layperson they will have no idea what you are talking about. So it only becomes a buzzword when used to baffle people.

Content marketing as a process is important. It’s about optimising your websites and blogs, it’s about engaging meaningfully with audiences on social media, it helps with link building and increasing your search engine rankings, and ultimately it attracts people to your organisation because they believe in what you have to say, not just because you’ve asked them to buy from you/support you/etc. It builds brand credibility, loyalty and ultimately affects the bottom line.

Personally I love it. Content creation, copywriting, content marketing; whatever you want to call it, that’s what I do and it is, in my opinion, the future, as engagement moves increasingly online.

So perhaps it’s a good thing that we’re using similar terminology across all the disciplines but it is not a good thing to try to impress people with jargon, nor is it good to alienate people from an industry that already struggles to describe what it does.