Why You Need to Hustle Content: A Lesson from The New York Times Innovation Report


The recently leaked New York Times Innovation report has become required reading because the document provides a candid snapshot of a legendary brand struggling to embrace the realities of running a business in the digital era. In unsparing language, the internal report indicts The New York Times for failing to master “the art and science of getting our journalism to our readers.” I believe The New York Times Innovation report offers many lessons for content marketers regardless of your industry. Among those lessons: it’s not enough to produce great content. You have to be a content hustler, too.

Content hustling means sharing an idea across multiple distribution channels ranging from a brand’s website to its social media spaces. Content hustling requires companies to empower employees to act as brand ambassadors, relying on their personal networks to share corporate thought leadership. Essentially The New York Times takes itself to task for being a woeful content hustler.

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Three Questions Your Thought Leadership Strategy Should Always Answer


Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute recently took companies to task in an assessment of branded content that he published on LinkedIn. “The majority of content produced by brands through blog posts, enewsletters, social media posts, print magazines and webinars is flat out awful,” he wrote, noting that nine out of 10 companies produce content like media companies to attract and retain customers. He indicated that one of the problems with branded content is that the vast majority of brands lack an actual strategy. Enter Dr. Liz Alexander and Craig Badings of Leading Thought, who have published a new online course to help brands get grounded in a form of content marketing known as thought leadership, or the creation of ideas that advance the state of the art in any given field. And I’m happy to report that Liz and Craig devoted a chapter of the curriculum the thought leadership strategy I created for digital agency iCrossing (where I managed thought leadership, social media, and influencer outreach for more than two years). My key take-away for Liz and Craig: an effective thought leadership strategy must flow from the needs of your own brand.

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The contents of my interview with Craig, conducted earlier in 2013, are available for purchase as part of the course, which also includes insights from the likes of thought leader Jeff Bullas. However, I’ve been granted permission to cite a few of the highlights of my interview. Here are three questions you should always ask when you create a thought leadership strategy, based on my experiences at iCrossing and the ideas I shared with Craig:

1. What does your brand stand for?

You can create interesting thought leadership if you don’t understand your brand — but your ideas will be off topic, off tone, and off strategy, thus confusing your audience rather than attracting potential clients. That’s why it’s essential that you connect your thought leadership to your brand personality, messages, and Continue reading

Got content?

I recently joined the marketing team at iCrossing, a global digital agency that builds connected brands. I’m focusing on thought leadership, influencer outreach, and sharing the company brand through social media. I’m excited at this direction in my career, and I’d also love your help.

First, a bit more about my areas of focus. Thought leadership, social media, and influencer outreach are inter-related fields. Thought leadership — usually considered the ideas an agency generates through its points of view, research, and blogs — is essential to the success of an agency. Ideas constitute the currency of our industry — and, as industry expert Michael Gass recently noted, are essential to an agency’s business.

Influencer outreach — the way we connect with bloggers and think-tanks, to cite a few examples — helps a company like iCrossing improve our thought leadership.

And of course social media enable the conversation with influencers.

I’m working with my colleagues at iCrossing to figure out a thought leadership agenda — the topics that will influence the ideas we share with you and our clients.

To give you an example of what we’re doing already: iCrossing recently published a major point of view on why brands must act like content publishers to succeed, and you can expect more about that topic. We’re blogging about a diverse range of topics such as how companies use social media to become more effective and the state of the art in search marketing.

I would love to have your input, too. What ideas would you like to see iCrossing share with the marketplace? What would make us a more useful brand to you? For instance, would you like to see PoVs on specific consumer segments like digital moms or teens? Advances in social media? Commentary on mobile marketing?

Feel free to ping me at david.deal@icrossing.com or leave a comment on this blog.

I am listening. Thank you.