It’s long been a fact of life in academic circles — the relentless push to continuously publish printed works to sustain or further one’s career (Wikipedia). Universities place this pressure on their faculty to promote their status as leading-edge places of learning; i.e. to boost their credibility and build their brand.
While corporate bodies may have been late to the party, many are now realizing the critical role print publishing has on a brand’s image and reach. Indeed, in terms of building awareness and cementing a role in thought leadership, “publish or perish” is as true for them as it is in academia.
Why is published content so important to building your brand? First off, appearing in published material cements your place as a thought leader in your industry.
“Overall, our research suggests that there is a higher degree of trust from consumers when they are reading content from credible, third party experts,” concludes a report from Nielsen Research (The Role of Content in the Consumer Decision Making Process, 2014).
Their research showed that, when exposed to user reviews, branded content, or expert content from third party sources, the highest purchase lift came from the expert content. This was true not only for purchase consideration, but for brand affinity and familiarity as well.
Clearly getting your name and its associated expert status into industry publications can give your overall brand a big boost. Beyond this type of expert content, though, brands must continue to print their own content in a world where the push is toward digital everything.
According to USA Today’s Larry Kramer, who spoke at the recent Digiday Publishing Summit, publishing in print is critical to any publishing brand that is attempting to evolve into a multi-media company.
“Print is far better for discovery,” said Kramer. “The better digital gets at what you want the less able you are to discover something you never thought of. If you’re turning the pages of a paper or magazine or TV, you’re likely to see something you didn’t ask for, and it’s a big palette.”
Research backs this up, both in the U.S. and abroad.
“[Our research] confirms the view that corporate publishing has become one of the most important of all communicative disciplines,” says Clemens Koob, Managing Director at Zehnvier, who were commissioned by the European Institute of Corporate Publishing to carry out an extensive study of the benefits of corporate publishing. (Koob estimated annual investment in the B-to-C and B-to-B printed magazine sector to be running at about 2,200 million euros in 2012, and expects a continued rise.)
While some companies consider native advertising a sufficient nod to the importance of publishing, it truly is not. In a recent interview with Contently, LifeLock’s Neil Chase explains that “an inauthentic, self-promotional piece of content can so easily ring untrue with readers, undermining the authority of the brand, as well as the publication in which it appears.”
Telling your brand’s story requires a journalistic, not a marketing-centric, approach to the task. As brands become publishers, and staff expands to include an Editor-in-Chief, publish and thrive becomes the new mantra.