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2014 Marketing Trends: Content, Storytelling, Integrated PR

A series on 2014 marketing trends by Howard Greenstein. For the full story, download our free Marketing in 2014 Guide.

Marketing has embraced “storytelling” once again in 2013, and there’s no sign of it stopping. One reason for this is that social media and other channels demand content, all day, every day.

Content 2014

Key Trend: Content for All

“Content marketing is the hottest buzzword of 2013, and I don’t see it stopping for 2014,” Stephanie Agresta, global director of social media and digital for MSLGROUP, told Vocus.

“People are building real structure around content marketing, the same way we were previously looking to invest in digital experts and social experts. The investment in content creation and distribution is following suit. I don’t see people creating separate silos of content. If anything, content is less able to live in a silo than digital ever was. It is integrated into every asset a company has.”

Marketers know that almost everything is “content.” It connects through digital, social, search and email channels. This trend means budgeting for people in your organization who spend time creating content that is useful, interesting and relevant to your customers.

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Whether you’re a B2C company creating product photos or a B2B marketer making white papers, budget for more content in 2014. You can’t simply curate content and expect to be as valuable as companies who provide it.

“There is a great study, On Brands and Word-of-Mouth,” says Spike Jones, group director of engagement for WCG. “They studied why things spread socially and offline.”

The number one reason things are shared is that it feeds people’s egos. Look at Instagram: it’s pictures of what I’m eating right now. The number two thing is information; really, information that is new, or about new products and services. That means going to your influencers and saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to give you a sneak peak, go spread the word if you want.’ The third reason is emotion, specifically disgust and delight (and mostly disgust on the Internet, if you look around).

“So create content and stories around those things: ego, info, and emo, and make your brand a conduit for customer storytelling,” says Jones.

“On one side you’ve got a person. On the other side you have the thing they’re passionate about. As a company, you can be the thing that connects the two: they’re using your product to feed their passion. When we create stories that way, we become part of the conversation. “

Key Trend: PR Teams Get Integrated

“PR is changing rapidly,” says Christopher S. Penn of SHIFT Communications. “They’re realizing the ‘public’ in public relations means everyone. We’re going back to the idea of the people as the platform. We have to get used to the idea that we’re not talking just to the news media, we’re talking to everyone.”

Spike Jones adds, “Even in mid-sized companies, there’s still a divide between the digital kids and the communications kids. The digital guys say: “those old school PR and marketing guys don’t get what we do, they don’t get social.” But then you sit and ask them questions about communication and authentic PR and they don’t understand what those basics are. There’s a misunderstanding on both sides. Integration is talked about but no one has cracked that nut yet.”

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Organizations, even small and mid-sized ones, generate feelings of “us versus them” when budgets are tight. Consider using training and learning budgets to have teams teach each other. The benefit to the whole organization will be considerable.

Planning considerations for 2014

Budget for people who can communicate your messages via content marketing. They should be fluent in written and visual messages, and able to understand how content can be shared in different ways on social networks, in email and via search.

Work with teams to build integrations between functions, while thinking about cross-development and team-swapping to generate new connections and new ideas.

For more 2014 marketing trends, click here. 

Image: Eloqua’s Content Grid

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