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Man Vs. Machine: The Brave New World of B2B Content Marketing

Posted by wendyama

There’s something ironic happening in the world of B2B PR. Sometimes it seems that just about everyone is hopping on the bandwagon of creating engaging, individualistic content. Other times, it’s as if there were tons of folks lining up to hand their content generation over to mass automation technology.

Here’s the latest point in favor of the techies, pulled from a post by Scott Redick in Forbes predicting the rise of automation:

“News writing will increasing become the domain of automated software programs…PR firms will hire technical experts to manipulate code on content farms, search algorithms and copywriting bots.”

The end result: public relations professionals will function as “truth engineers,” to use Redick’s terminology, spinning the truth to suit their client’s wishes.

Some cynics may believe that’s what PR professionals do now, albeit with words, instead of code. Yet there’s a major discrepancy between putting your best foot forward - something most B2B PR professionals strive for - and explicit deceit. This form of complete distortion has no place in any PR pro’s toolkit.

In the meantime, let’s return to technology and content.

Content can definitely be machine-manipulated to dupe search engines. In addition, content automation companies like Automated Insights excel at writing data-driven stories, though they reportedly have people touch up the work when necessary. Considering the caliber of some human-written (so old fashioned!) press releases, I’d imagine a machine could produce better work than some of those lengthy, terminology-intense mounds of jibberish.

With that being said, there’s much more to content marketing than simply writing articles. Content, in order to be distinguished among the deafening roar, should have a bit of idiosyncrasy--a smattering of whimsy or artistry. As Joe Pulizzi says,

“Epic content is all about stories that inform or entertain, that compel people to action and truly makes a difference in people’s lives. It positions the company as a trusted leader. It makes the buying process easier.”

Beyond riveting content, B2B content marketing must be structured around a strategy. If it isn’t, it’s simply copy, not marketing with goals and deliverables.

It’s great when technology serves our goals and makes processes more convenient or better. However, the “marketing” in content marketing--and in many cases the “content” aspect too-- depends on the qualitative judgments of real people. A machine might be spectacular at processing data but it can’t make the subtle distinctions (not to mention witty rhetoric) that we can.

A classic Winston cigarette ad had a grammatically incorrect word, using "like" instead of "as." It went: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” A logic-driven machine would make the sentence grammatically correct and by doing this, lose the rhythm of the phrase.

By the way, I wrote this post on my own -- entirely without the aid of a computer, a machine, or a droid from Star Wars.

I’d love to hear how you are using technology to enhance your content marketing. Please tell us about it in the comments!

























Jan 21, 2013
 
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Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx is the founder and president of Marx Communications, a boutique inbound marketing and public relations agency. An award-winning B2B public relations pro, she has helped many small- & medium-sized firms (SMBs) become well-known industry brands and transform their businesses, going from Anonymity to Industry Icon™.

Her business articles have appeared in The New York Times, InformationWeek, Inc., Advertising Age, & Fast Company, among other outlets. 

View all posts by Wendy Marx