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Why Online Content Needs to be Specialised

An interview with Tick Content founder Peter Applebaum recently ran on mumbrella.com.au. It generated some heated responses…

Headlined ‘Traditional agencies are lost in the online content space’, the article ran as follows:

The founder of Sydney-based branded content agency Tick Content, which launched this month [March 2011], has said traditional PR and creative agencies are ‘lost’ when it comes to creating marketing content for the web.

‘PR and creative agencies are good at monologue marketing,’ said Peter Applebaum, managing director of Tick Content, an offshoot of the social media marketing agency, Tick Yes. ‘But in the online content space, they are lost. They are just not set up for it.’

‘Content is not about a one-off campaign you can walk away from. It’s a CRM discipline and has to be carefully managed,’ he said. ‘It’s not just a single big idea that counts, but a hundred little details that keep the consumer coming back.’

‘Traditional agencies too often approach content like a guy who goes out with a girl, proposes to her after a few months, then doesn’t speak to her again.’

Applebaum’s Tick Yes business has offered marketing content for the last three years, and has now seen the need for a specialist in the area.

‘We have tried outsourcing content in the past. But what we got back was substandard. So we brought it inhouse,’ he explained.

Among Tick Content’s clients are Bayer’s Advantix, a worming drug for dogs, for which the agency runs a branded social community, Landcom and ad:tech.

Another example of marketing content done well is Jurassic Lounge, an online community for the Australian Museum, Applebaum noted: ‘They’re turned their backs on the dusty, boring way of doing things, and presented the museum in a new light for the younger generation.’

Peter Appleabaum’s quoted comments generated a number of positive responses on Mumbrella, but also a fair amount of anonymous (and pseudonymous) vitriol.

Yet his point about the need to have specialist content providers for the online space is undeniably valid. Just as you wouldn’t consult a podiatrist about a possible tonsillectomy, just as you wouldn’t take guitar lessons from a euphonium teacher, just as Tick Content isn’t in the business of producing print ads or television commercials, so you always feel more comfortable working with people who specialise in a particular field.

Perhaps some of those commenting angrily on Mumbrella feel threatened by the new kid on the block. Perhaps they are simply people who enjoy pouring anonymous scorn on anyone who tries to do something a little different. Which begs the question, why are they operating in a field (advertising/marketing) that demands constant new ideas and adaptability if they are so averse to or afraid of change?

Or perhaps they believe that anyone can write; that the ability to come up with a pithy phrase can automatically be extended across hundreds of words – not to mention images, videos, podcasts and the like – and across a variety of different online platforms.

There’s a vaguely philosophical concept that if you chained 500 monkeys to 500 typewriters they would, in time, produce the works of Shakespeare (and you could expect a visit from some very angry PETA representatives).

But the monkeys remain monkeys – as anyone who’s sourced low-quality, mass-produced content through a content farm like Odesk will testify.

Tick Content doesn’t claim to be staffed by Shakespeares. But it is staffed by professional journalists who look for the story, not just the slogan, and who understand that the story evolves over time. Good content engages, informs and educates over the long term. In other words, it’s a job for specialists.

 

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Image sourced from: TM-LE

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