Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio.

Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio.

Hello from somewhere above Nuku’alofa.

I’m heading to Cleveland, Ohio from Canberra, Australia for an international conference on content marketing.

As the co-owner of a growing business I’m not sure there is ever a great time to head off for a conference, particularly one on the other side of the world. The day-to-day opportunities and challenges of conducting my small business “orchestra” mean that there are always excuses not to go places and do things.

But sometimes opportunities are too good to resist. Content Marketing World is one such opportunity. The chance to spend three days with 500 people from 16 different countries talking content was too good to pass up

Content marketing is a clever description. It refers to the production of communications, in all its various forms, distributed through direct, client controlled channels to audiences (people) you are trying to reach and influence.

It’s a form of marketing that is suggesting to people all over the world to go direct. It’s a movement that is encouraging businesses, governments and not for profits to take the money they may have previously used to rent space on commercial television, radio, print or online and spend it on creating their own unique content that can be distributed directly to the people you want to reach.

The spread and utility of the tools of the digital age has only strengthened the capability to do it yourself.

This insight drives my own business, contentgroup. Fourteen years ago as a political reporter covering Federal Parliament in Canberra, I could see the emergence of new and growing opportunities to create content for Government and commercial clients. I was seized by the promise of the Internet, which was still young in those days, to distribute the video, text, stills, audio and graphics to help organisations accurately take their story to their communities, clients and constituencies. Importantly, my idea was that our content would be underpinned by the very same impartial, professional journalistic skills I used each day in my job with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Quite simple really.

Happily for me, just as I was starting out on this pursuit, I took a detour through the world of professional rugby union, strategic communication, issues management, advocacy and public relations.

The years on the “dark side”, as my increasingly nervous journalist mates delight in calling it, strengthened my commitment to story-telling and strategy.

Stories are great. Stories well told are even better. But stories well told, with a specific strategic purpose, are enormously powerful. It goes without saying that stories must have integrity if they are to resonate with people.

This is the future of informing, connecting and motivating people in the digital age.

We are in the process of being freed from the restraints of the mass media.

The days of paying for the privilege of reaching people who have no interest in what you have to say are fast coming to an end.

If you don’t believe me take a look at the stock prices of the major newspaper companies the world over. Advertisers have worked it out and they are rushing for the exits of the “old media” building, which is now well and truly on fire.

If you are in charge of a brand, a government program, or if you simply have a story to tell, you are increasingly able to reach the precise people with whom you want to strike up a conversation without paying for advertising.

But this opportunity has rules of engagement.

To succeed you have to be authentic, informative, entertaining and sincere.

People now have limitless choice- of brands, programs, products and providers.

If your story isn’t compelling, you will be disconnected.

If you don’t treat people with respect, forget it.

The power is now well and truly with the people.

The smart people at the Content Marketing Institute have realized all of these things and have called the story-telling clan together for two days in Cleveland.

My journey is Canbera-Sydney, Sydney-Los Angeles, Los Angeles-Chicago, Chicago- Cleveland.

It’s going to take the best part of 30 hours to get there but you know what, I can’t wait.

Look out Cleveland …… I’m on my way.

David Pembroke

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