There’s a funny bit of irony going on in the B2B PR world. On the one hand, everyone and his brother seems to be talking up the issue of creating engaging, individualistic content. On the other hand, there is no shortage of people wanting to turn content creation over to the tech titans of mass automation.
Here’s the latest case in point for the techies, a predictions post by Scott Redick in Forbes:
News writing will increasing become the domain of automated software programs…PR firms will hire technical experts to manipulate code on content farms, search algorithms and copywriting bots.
The net result is that PR professionals will become "truth engineers," to use Redick’s Orwellian-sounding term, manipulating the truth on behalf of their clients.
I am sure some cynics would say that is what PR professionals do now, though with words, not code. However, there is a big difference between putting your best foot forward, which is what most B2B PR professionals try to do for clients, vs. outright distortion or deceit. The latter has no place in any PR professional’s toolkit.
Meanwhile, back to technology and content.
It is certainly true that content can be machine-generated to fool search engines. Moreover, content automation companies like Automated Insights do an impressive job of writing data-driven stories, though they reportedly have humans to touch up the work as needed. And given the quality of some human-written press releases, I would bet a machine could probably do a better job than many of those gobbledygook-ridden horrors.
Still, there is a lot more to content marketing than writing articles. Content, if it is to be heard among the deafening roar, needs to have a touch of idiosyncrasy—a bit of whimsy or artistry. I love what content maven extraordinaire Joe Pulizzi has to to say about this:
Epic content is all about stories that inform or entertain, that compel people to action and truly makes a difference in people’s lives. It positions the company as a trusted leader. It makes the buying process easier.
Beyond gripping content, content marketing needs to be supported by a strategy and structure. Otherwise, it’s simply verbiage, not marketing with goals and objectives.
I’m all for technology if it serves our goals and makes things easier or better. However, I know that the marketing part of content marketing—and in many cases the content part as well—will depend on the qualitative judgments of people. A machine may be brilliant at counting but it can’t make the subtle distinctions that we can.
A classic Winston cigarette jingle had a grammatically incorrect word, using "like" rather than "as." It went: "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." A logic-driven computer would made the sentence grammatically correct and in doing so lost the rhythm of the ad.
I’d love to hear how you are effectively using technology to advance your content marketing while keeping it engaging. Tell us about it in the comments.
Wendy Marx is a B2B PR and marketing specialist and president of Marx Communications.
[Image: Flickr user Vaguely Artistic]