Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

What I meant was…

Posted on | January 30, 2009 | No Comments

TechInsights CEO Paul Miller called me out (in a manner of speaking) on my post last week on alternative-publishing approaches. His point is it’s about the audience, not about who’s doing the content creation.
Here’s what I said in my response:

I don’t disagree with your post at all (you can’t wash away 25 years as a journalist overnight!). But the phrase I use, which you refer to, is “vendor as publisher.” I don’t believe and will never believe that vendors replace media outlets as publishers. If that were the case, I’d call it “vendor IS publisher.”
Vendors–maybe surprisingly, maybe not–have (a) a hard time grasping the concept and (b) crave, still, media/analyst validation. I don’t think that will ever change.
In addition, your point about audience is spot on. Most vendors have a tenuous grasp on audience. Audience, up to now, they define as people who buy their products, but it’s more than that. Audience, is customers, prospects, partners, regulators, investors and employees. Companies HAVE to learn to communicate to these audiences, and there are valid ways to do that directly.
There’s another dimension as well: Because digital has become more companies store front to the world, they have entered the world of publish or perish. In a world ruled by SEO, you have to publish content otherwise that tree that falls in the forest makes no sound.

Conventional publishing is not at all at odds with vendor publishing. I think there’s a promising synergy between the two. Companies, no matter how much social media chum you dangle before them, still want validation from influencers in their industries. Badly.
My colleague (a client) Blake Cahill, CMO at Visible Technologies, bird-dogged a MediaPost article (subscription required) yesterday: “Death of the Influentials?”
In it, it links to Guy Kawasaki’s assertion that they’re dead:

“Reliance on influentials is flawed because the Internet has flattened and democratized information.

But it also calls out Ed Keller of Keller Fay and president of the World of Mouth Marketing Association. He subscribes to the opposite point of view. Says MediaPost:
“Keller’s research into both online and offline WOM suggests that online WOM is still only a small fraction of offline WOM volume in most categories, and that nothing is more effective at driving behavior than the objective recommendation of a known, credible source.” The two philosophies aren’t incompatible. Consumer products may not need influentials at all, but B:B or more technical products and services certainly could benefit from influentials–even as they talk about themselves through social media and their Web sites.

Now, whether those influentials come out of traditional media or grow into their brands out of the social media goop is anyone’s guess.

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