A central challenge for B2B content marketing is to keep copy free of promotional efforts. Traditional B2B publishers have handled this–with varying degrees of success–by erecting editorial walls, barriers to separate “church and state.” There are rules of engagement that limit just how much advertisers, via the publisher’s sales people, can influence editorial. But in content marketing, church and state are one and the same–the advertiser is the publisher, and by definition, the editor works for the advertiser.
One solution to this problem is what might be called a “virtual” editorial wall.
Though this may not have been her intent, Ardath Albee of Marketing Interactions has proposed just such a wall this week. First, she wrote about how to control the editorial influence of various corporate interests, such as legal and corporate branding. She followed this up with a post describing how to use an “editorial style baseline” to “to keep your content on track with solution developers, brand stewards and legal folks.”
Her baseline document aims to steer writers away from talking about their company and brands, and towards focusing on the interests and concerns of the reader. As she puts it, the baseline is a “way you make sure your content doesn’t slip back into company-focus which can diminish the levels of engagement you’re working so hard to build.”
In other words, a kinder, gentler editorial wall.
I have yet to see a discussion of editorial walls per se in the context of content marketing. But as traditional B2B editors move increasingly into this field, it’s a concept that can be useful. Albee’s baseline might be one good place to start that discussion.