The content shock is coming: what to do about it

November 13, 2014

content shockAt the beginning of this year, noted marketing thought leader Mark Schaefer of {grow} wrote a now somewhat infamous blog post titled Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy. If you haven’t read it, I’d recommend taking a moment to do so. His basic theory is that we are nearing the intersection of increasing volumes of content with our limited human capacity to consume it.

In other words, as companies jump on the content marketing bandwagon in droves, pumping out blogs, e-books, reports, videos and more, it’s becoming harder and harder to get people’s attention and succeed with the strategy. Just a few years ago, if you put a blog up and plugged away at it, you were a first mover and were pretty much guaranteed to have some success and earn attention from the audiences you were trying to reach. Today it’s much harder.

Content marketing is still king, but promotion is queen

What does this mean for today’s marketers? Abandon content marketing? There have been numerous dissenters to Schaefer’s article, and to his credit, he acknowledged and addressed them. In my opinion, the content shock theory mostly points to the fact that content marketing is maturing, and that content marketers must move beyond the “post it and they will come” mentality. No longer can companies assume that they can simply create quality content, post it online, promote it on their own social networks, and be successful. They must leverage a variety of promotion tactics.

The trifecta: owned, paid and earned media

As content marketing becomes more popular, the battle for attention is now becoming largely about the audiences you have access to. Thus to be successful today, every content marketing plan needs a complementary promotion plan that combines owned, paid and earned media:

Owned media

  • Website
  • Blogs
  • Social media
  • Email lists

Paid media

  • Promoted Tweets
  • LinkedIn Sponsored Updates
  • Retargeting
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Content recommendation (Outbrain)
  • Display advertising
  • Native advertising

Earned media

  • Pick-ups in traditional or trade media
  • Bloggers and other influencers writing about your content

Earned media: most influential, hardest to obtain

Many content marketers have traditionally focused on owned media and are now dipping their toes into paid media. But there are endless opportunities to combine content efforts with earned media. In fact, the two are ideally suited for each other. You must, however, think like a journalist from the very beginning of your content and “bake” earned media appeal into your content. Here a few tips:

  • Write like a journalist. If you don’t have former journalists on staff, consider working with a content marketing firm that does
  • Create citable content – think about the value of the information you’re providing. Is there anything new or insightful?
  • Bring in outside sources into your content. Do you work with other consultants or partners? Co-author blog posts with them. Not only will it extend your audience (as they’ll share the blog post with their network) but it will make your content more credible in the eyes of journalists
  • Research trade media editorial calendars and mirror your editorial calendar to theirs
  • Add journalists to your email marketing campaigns (with their permission). Most will likely welcome the resource (if you are producing valuable, relevant content)
  • Organize your content into a library of ready-to-go quotes organized around topics and “newsjack” the media (inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, to generate media coverage for yourself or your business)

If you’d like more insights into how to improve your content marketing efforts, contact me at 904-374-5733 or



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  • About the Author
    Michelle Calcote King

    Michelle Calcote King is an award-winning marketer with nearly 20 years of expertise in all things marketing, content, media and public relations. Specializing in highly complex industries, she leverages superior writing skills, media savvy and a love of all things digital to move her clients' businesses forward.

    Read my full bio or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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