Monday, June 15, 2009

Marketers as Publishers – An Interview with Kristina Halvorson

Liz-GielBy Liz Giel

Content strategy. It’s a relatively new idea that continues to pop up in marketing discussions. As marketers in the digital age, content strategy is a topic we can’t ignore. And it goes far beyond writing copy for a website. “Says who,” you ask? Kristina Halvorson. That’s who.

“Content strategy is not deciding what is going to go on your website,” says Halvorson, President of Minneapolis agency Brain Traffic and author of the upcoming book, Content Strategy for the Web. “It’s the journalistic questions around it. ‘Who’s going to create it?’ ‘Who is going to take care of it?’ ‘Why are you releasing this?’ ‘How does this map back to your user goals?’ 'How is this going to get on your site?’”

According to Kristina, there is a barrier to adopting this new way of marketing. “Traditionally, marketers have been focused on wins, numbers and reach,” she states. “Marketers don’t consider themselves publishers. Because of this, many organizations have failed to develop any sort of editorial infrastructure that would allow them to publish and update content on the web.”

On the flip side, there are those businesses that have embraced the idea of content strategy. Kristina praises such companies as REI, Room & Board and Kodak for offering content that is helpful for their audience. offers expert content on better living outdoors. Room & Board’s website has an ideas and advice section. offers information about how to be a better digital photographer. This ability to differentiate their brand from competitors has led these businesses to success in their web marketing initiatives.

Following this approach, marketing professionals are faced with the onerous task of creating original, useful content on a regular basis. But it’s a necessary evil. As Kristina puts it, companies must “connect their brand in the minds of the consumers with value, and not be totally promotional.” How can we do this? By finding answers to those journalistic questions mentioned before. This is content strategy.

To stay competitive and create loyal, enthusiastic customers, Kristina believes that businesses have to offer valuable content, but there must be a strategy. Marketers must rethink their traditional responsibilities and view themselves as publishers.

Kristina Halvorson is a recognized thought leader on web content strategy and is finishing her first novel, Content Strategy for the Web. She is the President of Brain Traffic, a Minneapolis agency specializing in web content strategy and information architecture.

To find more information or register for the June 23 event, "Content Strategy and the Future of Marketing," please visit
the MN AMA event page.

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