Knowing I specialize in boosting pitching results, people sometimes ask me if I think content marketing is making pitching less relevant.
They’re wondering this because of the growth of “brand journalism,” where companies create their own sales-free content simply to attract eyeballs.
When CMOs go to conferences or watch Gary Vaynerchuk videos, they are being told: “Look at the industry publications and sites that your customers subscribe to, and then put those outlets out of business.”
So if brands are attracting customers directly to their own material, why bother to jump through the hoops of refining your ability to pitch it to anyone else?
It’s a fair question during the content marketing revolution.
But those anticipating the demise of pitching are NOT looking to the future. They’re also unknowingly constraining their own potential by limiting their view of what pitching really is.
The real future of brand journalism
Here’s the deal: yes, over the coming years, some brand journalism sites WILL achieve significant influence in their industries. But those editors are going to be clamoring for ideas and experts and content just like traditional media sites do now. And that’s where you come in.
Actually, it’s already happening. I see coverage reports where PR pros are claiming placements on the OPEN Forum small business web site, which attracts more than a million unique visitors per month. Guess what – that’s entirely a “brand journalism” site run by American Express. But if you get your executive or thought leader is in front of an audience that’s important to you, who cares?
Pitching has never been limited to securing coverage from traditional media.
Pitching today and in the future is about 1) finding a third-party gatekeeper who has an audience you want to reach and 2) explaining to the gatekeeper how the content you’re proposing matches the needs of that audience.
Doesn’t matter if that gatekeeper works for USA Today or American Express.
There’s another reason that content marketing accentuates the need for skilled pitching pros. As the amount of content online skyrockets, consumers of it are more discriminating. The brand journalism sites that survive will be the ones that successfully earn mentions and links from other sites with heft and eyeballs.
The days of creating content and merely “putting it out there” are over. Content-driven brands will increasingly need pitching pros like you to promote their stuff to other gatekeepers to get it shared and watched. A web site owned by a traditional media company actually brought me in to train their journalists how to “pitch” their stories to journalists at other sites. If the “real media” needs to do it, then the “brand” media need to as well.
In short, here’s how you adapt:
Watch for the brand journalism sites that emerge in your industry. Study them and build relationships with their editors, just like you would with the staffers at a “traditional media outlet.” They’ll likely have different needs and operate under different philosophies, but once you figure those out you’ll see how you can help them.
And your placements will keep rolling in.
If brands are attracting customers directly to their own material, why bother with refining your ability to pitch it to anyone else? Here’s what you need to know about the real future of brand journalism.