Posturing Wastes Corporate Content

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Sometimes moving to a conversational medium can be hard. Transitioning style — blogs, videos, social networks updates, etc. — to serve stakeholder groups can be extremely challenging. This is a legitimate challenge of moving from traditional to conversational marketing. But some marketers ignore the relational value of social content, and abuse these media to posture, positioning for influence and popularity rather than serving. Posturing wastes corporate content.

Fellow blogger Rich Becker recently discussed the Fifth Estate, and how the PR blogosphere doesn’t act responsibly. That’s because many PR 2.0/social media influencers, just like their predecessors, believe that PR and marketing is about posturing. They are more concerned about looking good and maintaining influence than building real relationships or discussing industry ethics (see Becker post). God forbid if they took time to talk about anything other than themselves.

Let’s be clear. Blogging and creating content for popularity can make you “influential” by certain algorithms. And influence is the paper tiger that PR 2.0 social media types trot into the boardroom to close the deal. But that won’t build customer loyalty.

Content needs to serve stakeholders. For all intents and purposes, it’s a product you are creating for them. The correct use of content is to serve people, make their lives better. That’s the whole gist of positioning content marketing as the Serve strategy in Welcome to The Fifth Estate. Applied, if PR 2.0 bloggers had guts they would take up serious ethics issues like Weiner/Twitter use & Motrin, rather than getting flabbergasted by the latest Apple iOS announcement. It would better serve their clients.

Yes, there are other benefits, including thought leadership, SEO and customer loyalty (for nonprofits; donor, volunteer or beneficiary). This is the gravy received for doing the job right. That means make your readers’ lives better and easier through the content you are creating for them.

Today on Gaping Void, Kathy Sierra had a stirring post, “Pixie Dust & the Mountain of Mediocrity” to this effect: “If people love what a product, book, service let’s them *do*, they will not shut up about it. The answer has always been there: to make the product, book, service that enables, empowers, MAKES USERS AWESOME. The rest nearly always takes care of itself.”

When Media Professor Stephen D. Cooper came up with the concept of the Fifth Estate, he meant bloggers could become as meaningful to communities as the traditional media, becoming their watchdog. The pen is a powerful, powerful tool. When it is used in service to help our families, friends, countrymen, and, yes, our customers, it becomes a great thing. However, content that supports personal branding and false influence falls into that bottomless chasm of marketing BS.

Avoid posturing, and start helping people out. In the end, this is the answer you’ve been looking for anyway.


  • “Blogging and creating content for popularity can make you “influential” by certain algorithms.”

    But… but.. you mean it isn’t all about how high I can make my Klout score?? I can’t buy my soul back with magic Klout points? But, I still need my PopChips! ;-) (kidding, kidding)  A great piece, Geoff!

  • This one is really making me think. I guess I need to follow more PR 2.0 (whatever that is) blogs to see how badly this is being done. 

    • LOL, just my way of saying the guys shilling attention instead of real marketing.  I won’t mention “A-List” anymore. I refuse to put them above.

  • Geoff, I think you can see through the BS after a while and realize the social media/PR 2.0 expert/guru argument is there for a reason. I follow certain people in marketing because they present topics or ideas, give us some of their perspective but at the end ask us to think. People like yourself and Jay Baer are a few of my favs (and so so sorry to the bevy of others I forget!) just because of that reason.

    Let’s not posture, let’s create value and take risks. You can’t complete a maze without bumping into a few dead ends and backtracking. Curation is essential and realizing the long-term benefit of how and what you share over immediate “perception” and ego-driven needs should be first and foremost.

    • I think it can be tempting to posture. It is certainly easier, but per our Facebook conversation, this is the road towards professionalism and really helping your clients/company/nonprofit.  The other way is creating a mess that will eventually back fire on the company.

  • cool photo)

  • Thanks for the continuing the discussion Geoff. I am starting to believe we turned a corner somewhere when people felt they had already proven themselves and then it did all start to drift toward posturing. How many “me” post can a readership endure? 

    It’s hard to say, but only because so much of the audience is looking for the same grab bag attention. In the communication space, the focus isn’t on anything important as much as it is on whatever attracts attention. I recently had a site editor send me a list of “trending” topics with the intent to guide contributors toward stealing the buzz as opposed to writing about anything worthwhile. It’s painful, especially when some traditional media sites are trying to do the same. 

    What happens to the Fifth Estate then. I can only hope you’re right in that the professionals keep seeking to rise above instead of currying favors to propel their faux status even higher. 


    • The attention economy has as much reality to it as the dot come hype bubble.  The two are very similar. But I think the crash here will be more of individual flame outs than whole industries. I hope so, at least.

      Thank you for more insights, Rich. You made me think a bit more on the topic.

  • Way to cut through the BS, Geoff (with a laser like focus, by the way) and call us all out onto the mat.  There’s a fine line that many PR folks (myself included) walk between making sure our clients know our ‘capabilities’ and posturing.  Well said.  Thank you for the reminder of what we should be focusing on when we take to the keyboard.

  • My friend, @EricaAllison:disqus , turned me on to this post and I’m SO glad she did. Bravo! 

    I think that business owners and PR professionals alike would do well to focus on the needs, wants and desires of our readers and clients. Focus on them. Solve THEIR problems and you’ll a raving fan in your corner in no time. Great stuff!

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