BUZZ WORDS ARE APTLY NAMED. Trendy words and catch phrases erupt into the public consciousness like a cloud of insects. They swarm, flit around until they are impossible to ignore, and then they finally—mercifully—begin to die out. By then, they have become overused clichés that bring eye-rolls where they once commanded places of honor in Power Point presentations.
One such word that has been buzzing around the heads of those of us in media for the past few years is “Content.”
Content is what we have traditionally referred to as “editorial.” As in, the non-advertising portion of our magazine. In our case, this represents a healthy 60-plus percent of the typical issue. TEXAS FISH & GAME editorial—or, Content—includes the feature photo spreads, in-depth articles, columns and other standing departments that we use in our efforts to cover the enormous beat that encompasses all the various types of saltwater and freshwater fishing and all the various types of hunting in Texas.
As an unusually robust species of buzz word, Content has swarmed beyond its original environment in the media industry and buzzed into the ears of the general business public.
Now, anyone who sells a product or provides a service is encouraged to use Content as the main thrust of their promotional efforts. Web and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) gurus preach this method and offer their high-value services to help converted clients put it into practice. Blogs, YouTube videos, photo galleries, podcasts, and puff pieces of all varieties are ginned up and spewed out on web and social media sites across the vast digital spectrum.
Public relations, or PR, firms have been around for more than a hundred years, cranking out press releases, wangling or even strong-arming positive coverage for their clients in media outlets and providing damage control when things go wrong.
But this new emphasis on Content as a business strategy is a different animal. Rather than jockeying for product placements, favorable reviews, article mentions or even full scale profile features in established media, businesses are told to build their own original content platforms and to produce their own stories where their products and services are, if not the stars, at least prominent supporting characters.
A growing number of companies have even started publishing their own magazines, complete with lifestyle stories showcasing beautiful people conveniently using their products and/or services. For example, REI, the rock climbing and whitewater paddling supply retailer recently quit publishing its catalogs in favor of putting out a glossy lifestyle mag. More such brand-oriented vanity magazines are sure to come.
All this creativity is great. But, like infomercials on TV, pretty easy to spot as veiled selling vehicles.
For those of us toiling away in the True Content mines, the “competition” is a bit troubling, especially if it has an impact on the support structure we rely on—conventional advertising budgets.
But while all content, whether semi-artificial or not, competes for the eyes, ears and attention spans of a finite audience, we’re confident that enough of you still care about how you invest your limited information processing time. You have less and less of that time to waste and we’re sure you value sources that actually add something to your store of knowledge or emotional comfort system.
Which is why we continue to work hard every month (actually every day, considering our newsletter and other digital incarnations) to hone the format, scope and accuracy of the editorial output that we produce. We listen to our readers and web visitors and invite comment, criticism and suggestions at every opportunity. You captain the boat. We’ll take it where you tell us.
So please do, tell us.
Producing the best, most entertaining and, above all, the most informative editorial content possible is our ongoing commitment.
Our Content-ment, if you will.