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Content Marketing Lessons From The New York Times Innovation Report

Steve Olenski
Master Principal Sales Architect

It is surely not news, breaking or otherwise, surrounding The New York Times and the now infamous Innovation Report.

The report, penned by internal Times’ staffers, is a scathing indictment and a “pulling back of the curtain” on a venerable American institution that finds itself struggling to live and thrive in the digital world – a world that’s not exactly breaking news, either.

It’s not as if the digital trend came up on the Times and caught them by surprise.

Or maybe it did.

Regardless, there are lessons to be gleaned from what was and is perhaps still going on within the walls of The New York Times.

In his recent What Brands Can Learn from the Bombshell New York Times Innovation Report, influencer Scott Monty wonders aloud “how much of The New York Times internal digital report could apply to communications and marketing professionals within companies?”

And therein lies the issue at hand: At how many other companies and brands does this same type of digital apathy, if you will, exist? How many are operating in the vacuum and siloed world that was obviously quite prevalent in The New York Times?

A Little Know How Can Go A Long Way
We may never know just how things got the way they did at the "The Gray Lady.” However, we can share with you what we’ve learned that in turn may be able to keep this from happening to you, your brand and your company. 

1. Remember this is not a Field of Dreams. There is no such thing as “if you build it they will come” when it comes to content marketing – even if you are The New York Times. A line in the Innovation report says it all: ““We are falling behind in … the art and science of getting our journalism to our readers.” Less than 10% of traffic to The Times’ web site originates from social media. If the world doesn’t know about your content what good is it in the first place?

2. (Em)power to the people. In an article for superhypleblog.com David Deal coins the phrase “content hustling” which he defines as “sharing an idea across multiple distribution channels ranging from a brand’s web site to its social media spaces.” However, he adds that, “Content hustling requires companies to empower employees to act as brand ambassadors, relying on their personal networks to share corporate thought leadership.” Encourage and empower your employees to share all the great content your brand and company is producing.

3. Never assume. We won’t rehash the “you know what happens when you assume” mantra but according to the Innovation report, there was no shortage of reporters stating their belief that their work speaks for itself. In other words, they didn’t see the need to self-promote it. Taken another way these same reporters assumed because their content was so magnificent, the world would rejoice upon reading it and spread it throughout the land. Um, no. Your content generators and producers should be leading the charge when it comes to promoting the content that falls under your brand’s umbrella.

4. Integrate – Part I. The word “integrate” can take on a whole myriad of definitions and contexts as it relates to the world of marketing. In this case, we’re referring to the act of integrating your social media strategy with your overall content marketing strategy. Seems fairly logical, especially given the whole “Field of Dreams” metaphor previously mentioned. The fact is no matter how good your content is if you are not sharing it via the appropriate social media networks (among other places i.e. email newsletters) it simply will not matter. The key word is “appropriate.” As Anna Washenko of sprout social wrote last year you need to “Target your content to the networks where the most receptive audience will be.”

5. Integrate – Part II. Taking the act of “integration” to a whole different level comes the need to integrate across ALL channels: marketing, advertising, mobile and social media. In an April 2013 article entitled The coming era of ‘on-demand’ marketing, McKinsey Quarterly wrote of how this can be done. “Digital information technologies, operating behind the scenes to integrate data on all interactions a consumer has across the decision journey, will provide insights into the best influence pathways for companies, while also triggering new personalized experiences for consumers.”

The “digital technology” they wrote of then is precisely what smart marketers are using today to achieve that level of personalization and personalized experiences on demand with The Cloud. We’re focused on enabling marketing organizations to better unify their initiatives in ways that support their customers. That Holy Grail is rooted in a deep, meaningful understanding of our audiences and communities.

Check out how the Oracle Marketing Cloud is focused on helping marketers create ideal customers.

This post is the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to ensuring your company; your brand will not go the way of The New York Times. It provides you a very 10,000-foot view at ways you can prevent the digital-indifference that truly may be the difference between success and failure. 

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