B2B Marketing Trends: Editorial as Content

In order to finance two of the most famous and successful U.S. media companies, the publishers of Ebony and Playboy literally sold their own furniture. Back then, John H. Johnson and Hugh Hefner were too busy to sit down much anyway, so it’s likely they didn’t miss the furniture that much.

While people still recognize these famous magazine titles, times have certainly changed for the publishing industry.

Last year, the publisher of Ebony and its sister publication, the web-based Jet magazine, was sold to a private equity group. And also last year, the CEO of Playboy walked away, to be replaced by a managing partner of the private equity company that is majority stockholder of Playboy.

Neither of these titles carries much influence in the media world today, at least compared to their heydays, and there are myriad reasons why, from not paying attention to trends to not playing to strengths and not paying attention to demographics. But when you are great at something, it can be hard to change and adopt new ways that may have been seen as forbidden approaches only a few years ago. And according to the Wall Street Journal, you’re not really a media company these days unless you have a dedicated studio to make bespoke videos and articles on behalf of brands.


This graphic shows how B2B marketers are using and re-using marketing content through multiple channels. This is a trend that B2B publishers have begun to adopt as well.

The B2B publishing world has seen similar changes, where publishers are recasting themselves as data and event management companies and also embracing native content like never before. Funny how B2B publishing trends change, huh?

One shift that makes some journalists really bristle is the change of defining a journalist’s department and work as ‘editorial’ to now being referred to as ‘content’. And I can understand that. But I also see this new label as a minor issue.

Call it whatever you want, I say. As long as you understand what is happening with ‘editorial content’ today that is making it more resourceful, effective and useful, thanks in large part to interactive media (i.e., webinars) and social media sharing.

Years ago when I was a full-time journalist, people may have called me a purist or an idealist for the way I looked at the profession and my work. I know that when I jumped to a new career in marketing and public relations, some of my old journalist friends were shaking their heads. But even though I’m dedicated to placing my clients in front of the right journalists, or helping them to find and engage new prospective customers, I’m also active in journalism as a contributing writer to a number of B2B magazines.

I’m also a board member for ASBPE’s Chicago chapter, working to create education and networking opportunities for B2B journalists throughout Chicago. While B2B media continues to weather changes as once-proud titles fade into obscurity, new magazine titles still outnumber closures.

As Abe Peck of Medill’s Media Management Center told a room full of journalists at the ASBPE Chicago Chapter Spring Bootcamp recently, B2B journalism still has the ability to thrive and deliver amazing value to its audiences. This starts with an astute understanding of a publisher’s audience, as well as an ability to embrace disaggregation. And the funny thing is that this is a relevant message for B2B marketers as well. The ability to recognize and communicate the value of their work in terms of audience needs, data marketing, and even the ability to recognize new, transformative markets will open new opportunities for those willing to find them.