The day we all got serious about content marketing

This blog originally appeared on the Content Marketing Association's website, as part of their #DecadeOfContent campaign, authored by CPL MD Mike Sewell

I remember it well. 

It was autumn 2011; the venue was Cedar’s offices in the Strand, London; and the meeting was the regular get-together for members of the Association of Publishing Agencies (APA).

The APA had been established in 2003, after splitting off from what was then called the Periodical Publishers’ Association to reflect the fact the member companies were, essentially, contract publishing agencies.

And that’s how many of us would still have described ourselves before the 2011 meeting.

By the end of it, we had a different perspective.

During that meeting, thanks to some persuasive arguments from fellow members who had worked closely with some of the world’s biggest brands, we were convinced that we were actually doing something called ‘content marketing’.

No doubt the ex-journalists in the room (myself included) initially rolled their eyes at what we felt was just another passing buzz phrase from the other side of the Atlantic.

But it didn’t take long for us to take the term ‘content marketing’ seriously.

The days of a clear delineation between disciplines such as publishing, public relations and advertising were disappearing fast. Brands and organisations wanted to tell their stories online and offline via their own and others’ channels. And they didn’t really care which type of agency did it, as long as the content supported their marketing objectives.

Suddenly everyone wanted a piece of the content marketing action, not least those advertising agencies that were seeing their clients’ above-the-line budgets dwindle.

By the end of the meeting, the members of the APA had agreed that, to stay relevant in this new world, we needed to rebrand urgently. The Content Marketing Association was officially born a few months later during the summer of 2012.

Since then, the world of content marketing has continued to evolve, as has the differing make-up of the CMA membership.

But one thing has stayed the same: the simple fact that whatever we call ourselves, we’re more likely to thrive if we keep responding to our audiences, keep creating content that is rooted in truth and keep remembering to try to enjoy ourselves along the way.

Mike Sewell
is managing director
at CPL

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