Content Marketing Is Not Reputation Management

Content marketing is extraordinarily valuable to brand visibility, search rankings and demand generation. When properly planned and executed, it’s even effective in propagating thought leadership. But it’s not a panacea for good solid reputation management. Yet, some start-ups – and even old timers – frequently mistake it as such. Here’s why that doesn’t work:

Managing Reputation Is Complicated: No doubt you’ve heard the phrase about taking years to build and moments to lose. Despite efforts otherwise, companies cannot buy reputation; it has to be earned. It’s a complex dance of company brand, product brand, customer service experience and employer brand. It involves knowing your audiences and what influences them. And it requires rich, compelling storytelling that can be repeated by others with clarity and conviction.

Managing Reputation Involves Listening: Content marketers think (and are measured) in push terms: drip campaigns, opens and click-throughs. A 15 percent open rate for the last email marketing campaign might seem spectacular – until you consider the 85 percent that didn’t open or intentionally deleted your message. Reputation management thrives on real interaction: targeted messaging, active listening and nurturing influential relationships with customers, partners, analysts and journalists. Publishing an endless, one-way stream of Five Ways… or 10 Reasons to… on your blog doesn’t advance your corporate reputation. Without high-touch interaction (think physical events and phone conversations), you’re just creating more “content” noise.

Managing Reputation Takes Gumption: Call it what you want, but reputation management isn’t for the faint-hearted. It takes guts. You need to be comfortable steering the ship right into the storm sometimes, knowing that if you’re managing your reputation, you’ll come out the other side fully seaworthy. That’s only possible when reputation management is part of your company’s DNA and you’ve planned carefully for the different scenarios that can damage it. Reputation management is a systematic routine, not a “hair on fire” moment when a crisis threatens.

We’re not suggesting that you stop publishing to your blog or triggering your next marketing campaign. But don’t stop there. Step up your game by picking up the phone and surveying customers about what they think of your brand. When an industry analyst offers feedback, listen carefully and consider it to be free market intelligence. Instead of creating content marketing fatigue, take a different tact: create and sustain high-value, high-impact interactions.