Content Marketing Litmus Test: If You Won’t Click it, Why Would Anyone Else?

Andrew Hanelly
Andrew Hanelly

The line between branded and non-branded content continues to blur, whether you’re viewing a TNT-sponsored BuzzFeed list or a glowing profile on Scientology via The Atlantic. For Andrew Hanelly, SVP of strategy at McMurry/TMG, it all comes down to quality.

“Content that adds value has always been accepted by the public—even if it is branded,” Hanelly told PR News. “The difference now is that they understand it is a marketing phenomenon.”

Hanelly, who is speaking at the June 18 PR News Content Marketing Boot Camp in New York City, offers the following advice to communications pros looking to get in on the branded content game.

PR News: What’s your first response to a PR pro or marketer who says, “Content marketing? I don’t have the resources. Where’s the content supposed to come from?”

Andrew Hanelly: Well, what are you doing now that’s not working from a marketing perspective? My guess is that a smart content strategy would outperform something you’re doing right now with existing resources. If you had to build your marketing budget again—and from scratch—would you keep absolutely everything? Or are there some dollars you’d like to reinvest elsewhere? If you wouldn’t change a thing, congratulations, you’re the exception. If you would, I’d urge you to consider investing in content marketing.

Invest is the operative word for content marketing. In advertising and other marketing channels you spend and when the campaign is over, so is the effect. With content marketing, you invest—long after the content is published you’ll still get residual search engine, inbound link and social traffic if done right.  

PR News: What’s the best way to ensure that your content programs connect with business objectives?

Hanelly: Set measurement mechanisms up front and craft your content program around improving upon those measurements. Have a goal in mind when you create your program and build your content program as a series of layers around it. Typically, this means a content layer (like a microsite or subdomain) that supports an e-commerce site, for example, and social media, search engines and earned links from media sites and blogs as a layer around that.

PR News: What’s one tip you want to share with attendees at PR News’ Content Marketing Boot Camp?

Hanelly: Create the content you want to see in the world. Honestly though, if you wouldn’t click it, why would anyone? Get into the mindset of your audience and be picky. Your audience has plenty of sources of information, why should they choose yours?

Hear more from Andrew Hanelly at PR News' June 18 Content Marketing Boot Camp. To be held at the Yale Club in New York City, the boot camp will cover PR's developing role in the content marketing landscape.

Follow Lucia Davis: @LKCDavis