your-brand-BritoThere are four fundamental truths shaping today’s digital ecosystem.

Number one: There is a content and media surplus in the marketplace. There’s no shortage of advertising, marketing messages, mobile devices or social interruptions trying to command our attention, daily.

Number two: There is an attention deficit in the minds of consumers. Our brains are finite and we can only consume a small amount of content and then actually make some sense of it.

Number three: Consumers’ lives are dynamic and extremely unpredictable, making it extremely difficult for brands to reach them with a message.

Number four: All consumers are influential and aid their peers up and down the purchase funnel through normal conversations.

For these reasons, your brand must start taking content seriously and begin to make the right organizational changes to adapt to the marketplace. This also means that you need to elevate the conversation beyond content marketing.

Content marketing is, by nature, tactical. It can easily be done in a silo. If you are a marketer, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from creating, aggregating, and curating content and then posting it up in social media channels without having a strategy.

You can hire consultants, agencies, and even third-party journalists and bloggers using platforms like Contently or eByline to create content and campaigns on your behalf. It’s fairly easy and affordable to use services like Poptent or Genius Rocket to crowdsource highly produced video content.

And guess what? You can do all of this without actually talking to anyone in your company. Now, the content itself might not be epic or change any specific consumer behaviour, but it’s not hard to do and it’s not all that expensive.

The reason why many brands struggle with content, storytelling, and scale is because they are looking at content from an elementary point of view. Content is not a box you check, a bubble you fill in, or a bullet point in a PowerPoint presentation.

It’s more than SEO, more than videos, infographics, Instagram photos and real-time marketing. You can’t learn about content from clever blog titles like “10 Proven Tips to Learn This” or “5 Smart Tricks to Learn That.” Content must be considered a strategic imperative for your business. You must become a content organization if you want to take your business to the next level.

Just as there is an art to storytelling, there also needs to be a strategic and operational plan that can help you create and distribute content, integrate it across paid, earned, and owned media and measure it effectively.

As a marketer, brand manager, or small-business owner you must move beyond the content marketing buzzword and commit to building a long-term content strategy that will allow you to execute your content marketing initiatives flawlessly and at scale.

Coca-Cola has gone all in on content marketing by turning itself into a media brand.

Coca-Cola has gone all in on content marketing by turning itself into a media brand.

Your brand must become a media company

All media companies are content machines. They have the correct structures in place, aligned teams, a robust editorial process, and they execute the distribution of their content flawlessly.

Your brand must follow this model. Realizing that you still have rigorous business goals, you must challenge the status quo and think about content the way media companies do.

They say that every company is a media company. Tom Foremski, publisher of tech blog Silicon Valley Watcher, has been saying this for years now, probably since 2005 or so.

Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman Public Relations, has also been saying this for quite some time. Most recently in his 6 A.M. blog post, titled “Our Time To Lead,” he said that PR must take the lead of this evolution and that every company “should” be a media company that generates compelling content.

While every company “should” make this transition, most brands don’t realize it, resist the change or have no clue how to do it.

Nike's Better World site uses storytelling across multiple channels to create and maintain interest and develop a community of followers.

Nike’s Better World site uses storytelling across multiple channels to create and maintain interest and develop a community of followers.

What does a media company look like?

So you may be asking yourself, “Why a media company?”

Here are five characteristics of media companies you must adopt for your brand if you expect to make an impact, break through the noise, and reach consumers with game-changing content:

  1. Storytelling: Media companies tell stories. Condé Nast has a diverse narrative told through its media properties from fashion and travel to sports and weddings. Traditional news organizations also tell stories, although their narrative is current events or breaking news.
  2. Frequency: Media companies are content machines with an “always on” mentality. It doesn’t matter what day it is or what the hour, media companies distribute content all the time. For example, the New York Times publishes 1,500+ articles per day (including those from AP, Reuters, and so on) and 200 to 400 blog posts.
  3. Relevance: Media companies provide relevant content all the time to someone, somewhere. They aren’t in the business of providing content that’s a few days or weeks old, unless they are holding off on a story to get more detailed information. The content is recent and, in many cases, real-time.
  4. Ubiquity: Media companies are everywhere. They dominate the search engine results and their content is shared daily across social media channels. They produce videos and advertise, and even their journalists have started building their own personal brands, which also feed the content engine day in and day out.
  5. Agility: Media companies move quickly. They have subject matter experts and contributing writers who are prepared to write about any topic at any time. They also employ creative teams that can produce visual content at a moment’s notice. They aren’t held captive by approvals from a brand team or lawyers. They are content organizations and move quickly. They have workflows that facilitate the entire content supply chain (ideation, creation, approval, distribution and integration).

These principles can help you establish the “why” in making that transition into a media company. The “how” is where the actual work is done.

In my next post, I will provide a step-by-step plan of action that can help you successfully operationalize your content strategy and reach consumers with your brand story.

This excerpt, adapted for Sparksheet, is from the book, Your Brand: The Next Media Company by Michael Brito. Used by permission.