Diane di Costanzo

Chief Content Officer at Dotdash Meredith

Diane di Costanzo on Content Marketers Acting as Publishers

Growth doesn’t happen overnight. It takes significant efforts and tactics to catalyze the process. When used effectively, storytelling can be an excellent growth tool as it helps businesses connect with their customers and build strong relationships.

In conversation with Co-founder and COO at Pepper Content Rishabh Shekhar; Chief Content Officer at Dotdash Meredith Diane di Costanzo sheds light on the importance of content marketers acting as publishers.

Here are some excerpts. 

1. Could you please introduce yourself and tell us about your experience with content marketing? 

My name is Diane di Costanzo, the Chief Content Officer at Foundry 360, a content marketing agency that is embedded within the largest publishing company in the US. What's important about having our agency embedded within a publisher is that we know how consumers consume media. Media is our business, media is what we sell, and content is what we offer. Changes in content, content appetites, content formats, and content channels happen all the time. As publishers, we are well poised to understand those changes as they're happening and sometimes even initiate them.

2. What do you think about the qualitative and quantitative aspects of content? How has that shift happened for you in your space? 

I believe that even the highest quality content doesn't have a shot at moving a needle for our clients if it is not discoverable or published to the right channels. The clients hire an agency because they don't do content marketing themselves. We always commence with a strategic engagement with our clients to be clear on what the client wants their content to do, which sometimes also takes a little bit of education or re-education. We also start with what would be the highest value behaviors on the part of the consumers of a piece of content. There can be many goals, but we have to be clear on what those goals are. 

I think the worst way to get started is to say, "Let's just start making content and see what happens."

If we don't know the content goals of even the highest quality content, we can't say that we succeeded because we don't know what we were trying to succeed at. Best-quality content should always be a goal. 

3. In the last couple of decades, what has changed intrinsically when you think about content marketing?  

The largest change in media is technology. I always say that media is a verb, not a noun. Media isn't a thing. It is a constant flow of energy and communication that takes the shape of or is impacted by whatever channels you put it on. The biggest changes are the ones that have been imposed on content by technology. Also, companies have become more discerning when it comes to content. Some of our early digital engagements were all about SEO and tonnage. This implied flooding the internet with content because we wanted to win at organic search. While SEO is still important, it's not the only measurement. Winning in search will certainly help get traffic to your channels but once the traffic is there, content has to do more to make the consumers do what you want them to do. 

4. What are the top challenges that you see in organizations when it comes to content marketing? 

The biggest and most persistent challenge is that our clients are typically in marketing. When we're their brand or marketing managers, they often want their content to sound promotional. As a result, their content doesn't read like content, it reads like advertising. So we have to spend a great deal of time trying to convince our clients that they need to make content a value exchange for their potential consumers. Highly promotional content won't get the consumers to behave the way you want them to. We always try to dial back all the branded language within what we call content. 

When it comes to content marketing, try and think like editors and journalists. Certainly, there will be organically woven in branded messaging, but let's not start there. As a content marketer, you should join the consumer's conversation, offer value, and engage. You shouldn’t come in with a billboard and shout your advertising messages.

5. What is your take on outsourcing and how are you seeing that evolve in the US market? 

Media is constantly changing and how consumers want to consume media is changing too. Identifying those changes is not our client's core capability. For instance, if you're a bank, creating content is not your core competency. You might hire really talented creatives, but they might not know how media is changing because they don't work with an immediate media company. 

Content teams within brands work really well, but in my experience, they end up being content buyers or content managers of their external agencies. So it's very typical to have a content center of excellence within the client's organization and then opt for a content marketing agency. They have different agencies for different aspects of content and I think that's a very healthy model.

I believe that there should be content people within a client's organization so they know what it means and can be advocates for it.

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