Lauren Quaintance was an award-winning journalist. Then she joined the “Dark Side” of content marketing.
It used to be when a journalist left to go into PR their colleagues would joke about going over to the “Dark Side” referring to the malevolent force in Star Wars – or worse – snigger cruelly behind their back. After all, PRs were those irritating people who clogged your inbox with press releases and then phoned when you were on deadline to check that you’d received their brilliantly crafted missive on the latest model of vacumn cleaner they were selling.
Back then, PR was just about the only viable alternative profession for journalists (except for a lucky few who reinvented themselves as novelists and screenwriters.) Now, there’s a whole new “Dark Side” called content marketing. Except something has changed. Instead of disillusioned journalists jumping ship for a better pay cheque, the best in the profession are now looking to reinvent themselves as content marketers, or being headhunted by brands.
In the US some big name journalists including Wired Editor in Chief Evan Hansen, USA Today’s social media editor Michelle Kessler and Newsweek’s Technology Editor Dan Lyons have left the media to work for brands. Closer to home, Walkley award-winning ex-AFR journalist Andrew Cornell and former BRW publisher Amanda Gome are behind ANZ’s content marketing efforts.
It’s not just that journalists are fleeing the beleaguered media industry (although with 15% of the workforce made redundant in Australia last year good jobs are undoubtedly scarce). Journalists are beating a path to work for brands or agencies because many believe it can be as rewarding – and more lucrative – than writing for publishers. Amanda Gome from ANZ calls brand journalism a new type of media that is a move away from “soft public relations” to unearthing real news and insights that the audience is genuinely interested to read or watch.
Unlike PR – or advertorial – content marketing does not directly try to sell a product. Brands who use it well are creating content that is useful or inspiring or entertaining so that they can connect with potential customers oblivious to traditional advertising such as TV ads or direct mail. (See GE’s EcoImagination or Microsoft Stories if you’re looking for inspiration.) So, if you’re selling that vacumn cleaner you’d better start a blog with cleaning tips or, better yet if you’re Dyson about innovation or design, because your customers are not likely to be Googling the vacumn cleaner model or sharing stories about its sucking power.
So, what’s it like on the Dark Side? I always count myself lucky to have had a career in journalism. It took me from my hometown in New Zealand to New York where I bore witness to the September 11 attacks. And to the hallowed halls of Oxford University to study the impact of the internet on the media. And to London where I worked for one of the world’s great papers The Sunday Times at a timewhen there was money to spend on considered investigative journalism.
But in recent years as I rose through the management ranks at Fairfax Media, publishers of The Sydney Morning Herald, some of the most interesting work I did was for clients. I enjoyed the strategic challenge of creating content that the audience wanted that fitted with brand values and helped solve a business problem. Now, via the content marketing agency I co-founded, I help brands to cut out the middle-man and to become publishers themselves. If this is the Dark Side, then I’m happy to embrace my inner Darth Vader. I suspect, however, that it’s just the future of marketing and media as we know it.
Verizon Media’s talent program has come to an end for the third year, closing with a hybrid pitch-off event for Musicians Making A Difference (MMAD). The Verizon Media Academy class of 2021, made up of 44 emerging leaders from across Australia and New Zealand media, advertising and marketing industry, were given just one hour to […]
Social purpose organisation UnLtd’s Big Games competition has raised a combined $85,000 for children and young people at risk. Running over five weeks, the competition involved 32 teams from across the advertising, marketing and media industries battling it out virtually for a chance to qualify for the Rocket League final. The tournament culminated in a […]
Stan has announced that the Stan Original Film Transfusion commenced filming in Sydney earlier this week and will premiere on Stan in 2022. Transfusion is a taut, muscular thriller starring Sam Worthington (Avatar) as Ryan Logan, a former Special Forces operative, who is battling to cope with life after the loss of his wife and is thrust […]
According to a decade of data collected by iStock, Australian brands turned to imagery depicting outdated gender stereotypes during the pandemic. Tracking the keyword ‘women’, iStock by Getty Images found that in 2020, ANZ brands and businesses reverted to gender stereotypes. Images of mothers home-schooling were used at almost twice the rate of images of […]
Schwartz Media is congratulating Maddison Connaughton on her three years as editor of The Saturday Paper. Connaughton has decided to finish up her editorship this month. “It’s been an honour to edit the paper,” Connaughton said. “The Saturday Paper is one of the brightest voices in Australian media and I have been happy to see […]
Research from EdBbirdie using Spotify data has identified the most popular songs to study to. After analysing thousands of studying and homework playlists on Spotify, American singer Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘drivers license’ came out as top song to study to. It featured on 48 study playlists, while other top songs included ‘Ophelia’ by The Lumineers, ‘Falling’ […]
Dayna Stewart is the Business Director – Digital Marketing, Media & Creative Services at The Nudge Group. Here, she discusses the challenges that come with building a successful marketing team when working remotely. Before COVID-19 changed the way businesses work, most marketing teams spent their days together in a meeting room collaborating on the next […]
The line-up for the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Festival has been announced as the legendary event returns live in Las Vegas in September. This year, the epic two-day lineup for the iHeartRadio Music Festival main stage will feature performances by Billie Eilish, Cheap Trick, Coldplay, Dua Lipa, Florida Georgia Line, Journey, Khalid, Lil Baby, Maroon 5, Nelly, […]
Shop! ANZ is calling on shopper and retail marketing professionals from all retail related disciplines to participate in the first ANZ Shopper and Retail Marketing Industry Survey in four years. This important research provides a guide of where the retail marketing industry in Australia and New Zealand has come from and what is anticipated to […]