Weber Shandwick recently launched its new content marketing unit, Mediaco, to focus on providing an end-to-end solution helping brands adopt a media mindset. The unit combines first-rate editorial planning and production, emerging technologies and paid media in support of distribution and discovery of content. Mediaco draws on extensive experience implementing content publishing platforms from a diverse group of talent, from media planners to user experience designers to editors to build platforms that can produce content over a sustained period of time.
Ad Age touched on the growing trend toward brands getting into sponsored content and how Mediaco pulls together all the disparate elements of the process required to succeed at brand content publishing. Speaking to Ad Age, Chris Perry, global head of digital at Weber Shandwick, said, “There has been a long evolution in the development of this content element of our business, but over the last 60-90 days, this whole area of the business has caught fire not unlike how we saw social media catch fire four-to-five years ago. When you get into the work it’s a whole new thing bringing together different disparate pieces – from editorial to some newer sexier native advertising, to the social paid side of things. We see this part of the business becoming inevitable for clients to get into.”
In a separate write-up in Ad Age, Phil Johnson discussed the changing content and social media environment and how PR agencies have been “quicker to adapt” than marketers. He wrote, “forward-thinking public-relations firms have been more adept than advertising agencies at grasping the strategic implications of content marketing, which now includes an important paid-media component.” Additionally, he said, “Content marketing is not only about creating interesting material; it is equally about managing the distribution of content through all of the social channels.”
The Washington Post devoted an article to discussing the changing practices of brand publishing. They spoke to Torod B. Neptune, vice president of corporate communications at Verizon, a client of Weber Shandwick, who touched on some of the ideals behind a Mediaco mindset. “We don’t see our jobs as being P.R. people anymore. We see our jobs as publishers. Under the old [media] model, we used to pitch [story ideas] to you at The Washington Post and hoped you’d write about us. Today, we compete against you.” Later in the article, they paraphrased Perry, who addressed the bigger trends within the industry. “Making the brand the content provider flips the inherent premise of conventional advertising … Rather than pushing the company’s message, as advertising does, brand publishers are pushing what readers have already shown they’re interested in…”
In an interview with PR News, Jason Wellcome discussed the ways Mediaco is expanding the role that agencies play, and how Mediaco is bringing best practices from different disciplines to streamline the content creation process. “This entire space isn’t really within any one agency’s wheelhouse and it doesn’t necessarily conform to any traditional marketing discipline either. It borrows pieces from a number of them, from PR [and] digital to advertising and media planning. It even borrows from non-marketing disciplines like publishing. What you end up with is a fundamentally new discipline.”
The Holmes Report ran a piece after launch briefly detailing the capabilities of Mediaco, touching on the increase in hiring “brand planners, editors, user experience designers, writers, SEO experts, media planners, producers and more” for the unit.