As more and more businesses move away from traditional advertising, some non-media companies are increasingly crossing borders of established publishers’ turf by starting their own digital media content with ‘the works’, including content production and even editorial team!
Last week, the world-renowned hotel-brand, Marriott International Inc., has launched proprietary digital magazine called Marriott Traveler. It is a digital travel publication that aims to be a city-specific resource for travelers. The company sees the platform as a natural extension of its brand — and a way to attract potential hotel guests.
We think this is a good move on Marriot’s part. They acknowledge the need to become storytellers in order for the company to connect with their target market across fragmented digital media. Similar to traditional public relations, the intent of Marriott is to get their unified brand message in front of their audience and consumer at the right time and in the right place. If executed properly, their strategy to stimulate audience through content, will lead their customers through the purchase funnel.
With plans of pooling talents, adapting technology, employing processes and generating well-crafted content, the hotel chain could become the world’s largest digital publisher for travel content — not very far from today.
We now live in a world where content is used as a weapon to steal and hold attention. If one chooses to read an article, he decides to pay the publisher with his precious time and focus his attention on the post, rather than elsewhere. There’s no denying that the information consumers read affects what they think, do and ultimately, what they buy in the end. This is why Marriott didn’t pass up the brilliant idea (amid ‘Travel Billiantly’ campaign) and the rest of the big brands are now rushing to become digital publishers.
When you think about Marriott, the hotel chain, chances are the first word you associate with the brand is not “publisher.” And yet, the company is attempting to rebrand itself as a media entity, in a move that’s emblematic of a broader trend in content marketing.
Marriott on Monday unveiled “Marriott Traveler,” its new digital publication for travel content. Developed by Marriott’s Creative and Content Studio, the magazine will feature city-specific fare with a focus on regional art, music, fashion, wellness, family, food and drink, all curated weekly by staff, digital influencers as well as local experts.
The first edition was a dive into New Orleans, featuring articles with titles like “Art After Dark in New Orleans” and “5 Places to Take Your Little Theater Geek in New Orleans.” Other recent content produced by the hotel company has included virtual reality gimmickry and even a feature film.
“Marriott.com is essentially our in-built media platform and will be our content hub,” said David Beebe, Marriott’s vp of content and creative marketing. “We want to use it to provide value to our consumers without directly selling something to them; we want to engage with them on their terms.”
And Marriott is hardly alone in its recent publishing posturing. In November, Airbnb launched its own quarterly magazine, Pineapple. Last month, Starbucks announced that it would be brewing long-form documentaries about social issues apart from its coffee. Red Bull, GE, Amex and Dell are all peddling content alongside their main products.
“Now that traditional media are not the gatekeepers and brands have the resources and technology to get in on the action, why wouldn’t they?” asked Jessica Lee, founder of content-services company Bizzbuzzcontent.
“Marriott and Starbucks are just the start,” said Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi. “We are anticipating that in 10 years, the majority of online media (outside of user-generated content) will come from non-media companies.”
The strategy is not without its risks. Verizon folded its Wired-inspired tech lifestyle website SugarString within two months because the company couldn’t articulate where it fit in with the company’s overall marketing goals.
“Most [brands] don’t have the patience to make this happen,” said Pulizzi. “Most brands are seeking immediate rewards — more leads, shorter sales cycles.”
But ask any publisher, and they’ll tell you: Immediate rewards are hard to come by. For a brand to become a legitimate publisher in its own right requires an investment in time, people, workflow, platforms and tools and technology. The content needs to add value to the customers, be pushed out into the correct pipelines consistently and be distributed across the right channels.“Content marketing is a marathon; it’s not a sprint,” said Lisa LaCour, vp of global marketing at content-recommendation platform Outbrain.
“The biggest mistake is thinking that they can do it without busting their silos,” Tosca Fasso, Huge’s director of content strategy, added. “They need to understand that there has to be a fundamental change in the way they do business.”
Since its content studio’s inception in September last year, Marriott has produced a slate of TV shows, Web series and even a feature film. It plans to publish bylined content from a network of writers on the new digital property weekly and has also roped in former journalists and writers for it, including Marc Graser from Variety and freelance travel journalist Wayne Curtis… Read full article on Digiday, here.
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