Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Why Writing That Targets Humans Remains Cutting Edge

Thousands of digital marketers and gadget geeks will soon be descending on Austin, each determined to be personally responsible for overloading Twitter with their snapshot insights from SXSW Interactive. And while SXSWi has become a launching pad for exciting new technologies such as Foursquare and Twitter, the panel I’d most like to attend (if I were going) focuses on the apparently unhip technology known as the written word.

This Saturday (March 11), Kyle Monson, a content strategist at JWT, will talk about Brand Journalism: The Rise of Non-Fiction Advertising. What is brand journalism? No one is quite sure. As Monson notes in a recent interview with
Brand Journalism is, in short, a method of engaging our audience in discussions about the brand. This is done by creating compelling content and messages as well as by incorporating the audience’s own viewpoints. We’re teaching brands to mimic publishers and journalists in how they produce content, and to mimic humans in how they communicate with their audience.
While Monson admits that brand journalism might just be a new name for the well-established practice of corporate communications and PR, his panel description notes that “we're still trying to teach big companies and ad agencies how to communicate like humans, how to listen, and how to use transparency as a messaging tactic.”

It’s strange to think that in 2011 this is still the case, but as this article about Groupon’s success demonstrates, some of the most forward-thinking content-driven marketing involves nothing more than harnessing the very basic and ancient technology of empathy, understanding and trust.