Companies are worrying about hiring ‘growth hackers’, and ‘culture officers’ and digital guru ninja rockstars, because those are the exciting things they’re reading about online. I’ve probably heard the term growth hacker more times in the last month that I’ve heard someone say something about developing a growth strategy. But I don’t really think these roles are going to last long term - they focus on one area of something that should be part of everyone’s job.
More brands should be hiring an Editor in Chief.
I can’t look at the current state of media and advertising without thinking that the common approach of renting eyeballs just doesn’t work in some platforms. And the division between owned media and earned media always seemed somewhat artificial to me: the audience is always earned. Whether you publish on your own presence, or someone else mentions you, you still need to do something to earn the eyeballs you’re getting.
This is what an Editor in Chief would do for a brand. They would define the tone, assemble the team, and drive you to ship culture as content. An EiC could help companies make the leap from ‘branded content’ (noun: commercials without the benefit of something entertaining before and after them) into something of value.
The value of an EiC isn’t something that a company can understand until they accept the truth of business in the internet age: just by existing, you are a publisher. You can no longer opt out of being a media entity - you can only choose if, and how, you will participate in your existence as a media entity.
The crucial thing here, is that you shouldn’t let traditional marketing or communications thinking dictate what your brand means. You should have someone more focused on telling the story as it is. Explaining the beauty that already exists, not defining a messaging campaign that gets you perceived in a way that has no relationship with reality. Having an EiC won’t matter unless you let them define your brand’s editorial mandate. This isn’t a think you do in place of more traditional marketing. It’s a thing you do in addition. It’s branding and advertising via action and output.
This isn’t how advertising works. That’s kinda the point.
Advertising, in it’s pure form, doesn’t really work all that well online. Experiences, however, seem to be working out pretty well. And experiences benefit more from an editorial viewpoint, than they do one focused on traditional marketing thinking.