There’s a good story that appeared on Adweek recently discussing why some companies had started print magazines. The reasons include both marketing of the company itself and, if they can attract advertisers, a source of new revenue.

In other words, it’s a content marketing tactic.

How content marketing is defined depends greatly on who’s being asked to provide the definition and what their financial motives are. If you ask someone in public relations they may focus more on organic blog and social media tactics. Someone in advertising will insist it applies mostly to paid posts. So on and so forth.

While I’ve always adhered more closely to an organic definition of the term – you publish your message in an attempt to be more relevant to the conversation, not just to sell product or services – I also understand that it’s a loose enough term to encompass many different specific tactics across a variety of media.

While the term has largely come into usage only in the last few years and been applied to online efforts, there’s no reason to limit it. Content marketing is what you make it, using content in your marketing.

One reason it began in the public relations world is that those practitioners were more familiar with how to produce and deal with the media than their paid advertising counterparts elsewhere. Corporate blogs and social profiles needed to be part of the media plan for a company, not separate from it as advertising had been. Blog posts needed to be coordinated with earned media coverage and other efforts.

Those origins are why seeing more companies expand their content efforts into print media isn’t at all surprising. They’re produced by the same type of people who for decades have been ghostwriting CEO bylined op-eds for trade publications, drafting investor letters, writing press releases and more. In short they have been doing this for a long while now, just in different ways.

Content marketing was about reaching the audience without having to go through the gatekeepers of the media institutions. If you deemed a message important enough to share, you could share it and weren’t subject to someone else labeling it “minor” news and deciding the press release was not worth wasting valuable – and limited – column inches on.

That it would expand into print makes sense, then, because it’s just about reaching a different audience through a different medium. That’s a core principle of content marketing, and it’s broad enough to include any number of executions.

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