(Post by Rex Hammock)
When I first started blogging 13 years ago, I thought I’d attempt to correct the misperception that there’s something new about companies creating informative, high-quality and helpful media for customers. Back then, the conventional wisdom among media and marketing reporters (and most marketers) was that companies communicate with customers by purchasing advertising in media that other companies own, not via media they own.
But I knew the truth: Media created by companies for their customers has been around since Fred Flintstone invented it.
I know, I know. I should have pretended the idea was new, as people were describing us as “pioneering.” However, as a business owner, I realized that selling something tried-and-true and a century-old was, at least before the Internet, a smart approach.
So in the early days of my blogging, when a reporter would write about a company creating a new magazine for customers in a way that implied the concept itself was new, I’d write something like this item from 2003 titled, “A century-old ‘New Model.'” But my fact-sharing never mattered. So what if a magazine still published by John Deere was around in the late 19th century? There seemed to be just enough truthiness in the notion that company-to-customer media is “new” to convince reporters to think it actually was new.
Even company-to-customer digital media is nothing new — we produced interactive CD-ROM customer media and managed Compuserve customer forums for clients more than two decades ago .
A couple of years ago, I gave up on ever trying to convince anyone that such customer media had likely been around longer than advertising-supported media created by some advertisement-aggregating middleman like the New York Times.
I decided that I had lived through this recycling and re-discovering of company-to-customer media so many times that I would say goodbye to the topic with one last post about it. Then I could point to that post whenever the “new” label was hung on some just-announced way a company was really just following tradition — by bypassing advertising-supported media by creating and distributing such media themselves.
Then, over the weekend, the New York Times ran a story about Mountain Dew’s launch of a newfangled content marketing site. The reporter, perhaps the leading writer on the topic of advertising in the United States, even used the currently fashionable terms “content marketing” and “branded content” to imply there is something new about what customer media has been since Bedrock.
Thank goodness I no longer have to correct him. Thank goodness I can now join in with others and believe this approach is brand-new and is the most exciting and revolutionary and — did I mention? — new new thing ever.
I’m not 100% sure, but I think Hammock Inc. invented it (even though we have two clients who distributed “branded media” for more than a century before they became our clients).
It’s awesome being so cutting-edge.