Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Content marketing takes over the web

The May issue of Fast Company caught my eye with a cover shot of Chelsea Clinton staring out. The magazine covering trends and entrepreneurs is a business magazine. The sub-head says, " She's got power, influence and a plan to change the World. Any questions?"

Cover and inside spread pulls the reader. . .
Sure, I got questions. I turn to the story inside and immediately see how designers have played/manipulated the photos. They need a photo editor, I think, someone who can get the best photographer and get access to bring back meaningful photos that help tell the story. Pictures of Chelsea working with people, using technology, leading the way . . .

Instead, there is a awful shot looking down and holding a microphone? What's this tells us about the leader? And the designer makes the photo look like the frame had been fogged accidentally when the photographer opened the back of the camera while the film was being rewound into the cassette.

That's what it looked like to an old-timer like me. But nobody shoots film anymore, it was taken with a digital camera!? No fogging, it just looks that way on purpose!

It took away from the information in the photo. I don't get it.

Reading the story I start getting other ideas. She joined her parents foundation, but isn't the leader. They have eight CEOs already! The article tells how "slowly, she is turning the Clinton Foundation into a more entrepreneurial enterprise." She apparently hired someone to be the "initiative liaison," whose job was to report on what all nine "divisions" were doing, to "avoid potential overlap and suggests possible connections."

Thanks Chelsea, good idea.

"Data geek like Chelsea" becomes "Chelsea will function as a glorified Vanna White." What? Cover story for cutting edge Fast Company. It goes on to tell how "Chelsea's handlers are likely auditioning for White House gigs, should Hillary become president."

It tells how "one urges Chelsea not to change expressions during the cover shoot . . .it's a miracle the staffer's mug isn't on the cover alongside Chelsea's."

It dawns on me that this isn't a journalistic story, but an advertorial or native advertising. I find on TopRankblog.com how content marketing has changed the Internet and journalism. I can't believe they'd give in to doing a cover story.

Corporations (and foundations) are posting stories and trying to reach beyond their audience and with the cutbacks in newsrooms publications are looking for deals. "inform, engage and convert" says Miranda Miller on the TopRankblog.

So now I can't blame the art director for taking up space with graphic design, or blame the photo editor for not getting meaningful photos. The "sponsors" didn't want to lose control, they wanted a story and could sit in on the interview, but to let the photographer be a "fly on the wall." And not control when he/she pushed the shutter button was too risky. No pictures allowed.

It shows.

by Jim Domke
Texas based multi-media journalist