As the newly appointed strategic projects editor of its new Content Hub, Gayle Edmunds brings her enthusiasm and experience in the journalism industry to this position.
Ads24 has followed in the footsteps of international stalwarts such as The New York Times and The Guardian by offering a dedicated platform for the distribution of consistent, relevant quality content that can increase the reach of a brand’s messaging and add long-term value to more traditional advertising efforts.
How would you describe content marketing?
It’s tailor-made content that is relevant and useful to readers, which ensures the client’s needs are fulfilled. The primary difference is the content is approached from an editorial perspective to give readers maximum value, which directly converts into client value. In a cluttered media landscape, the only way to break through is to help readers live their best lives and answer the all-important “so what?” question. It brings together the skill sets of the editorial team and the sales team to offer the client impact and engagement.
Is South Africa ready for this and, if so, why?
South Africa is more than ready, we’ve been doing this for many years. South Africans across all walks of life are hungry for genuinely useful and credible information to help them make informed decisions. Clients are battling to get through to their potential customers because of an increasingly fragmented and on-demand media landscape, this means they need to demonstrate who they are and what they contribute to the South African project to recapture the attention of their customers.
How does your career experience benefit Ads24 in this addition to their sales arsenal?
I have been doing editorial projects with a selection of clients for six years within the City Press environment, among them the very successful City Press/Absa Money Makeover, which has won numerous awards and, more importantly, has – through the contestants’ journeys – helped many readers to financial freedom. I’ve also been a journalist – both as a writer and editor – for more than 20 years across subjects as diverse as theatre and bulk infrastructure to illicit financial flows and small business. This exciting move to Ads24 will allow me to further bridge the divide between editorial and advertising and create a new way of working that benefits the readers, the clients and the publishers. It’s in some ways a new frontier, but we’ve already made many successful forays into it.
Please share an example of content marketing best practice and what appeals to you about it?
The broad term covers a lot of ground and each project ends up being different, depending on the inputs from all the parties and the impact it has on readers. One of the most rewarding projects I’ve been a part of is the City Press/Absa Money Makeover, which enters its fourth series later this year. It takes six City Press readers and puts them through a six-month bootcamp with personal finance editor Maya Fisher French, with the assistance of selected Absa financial planners. It has been a revelation to see how quickly these candidates get out of debt and become financially healthy.
Best practice is that the projects are co-created by the team and the client to be of maximum value to the user, which ensures the best results for the client. It is a fun and creative process often with surprising outcomes.
What do you hope to achieve in your new position in the medium term? How will clients and agencies benefit?
I expect to build on the portfolio of work we‘ve already done and expand this to involve as many Ads24’s clients who want to try something new and exciting to reach their customers. I hope to reinforce the power of well-crafted content and how it can change the world if it is created for that purpose. Collectively, we have a lot of challenges to solve and all of us – no matter what sphere we operate in – are also private citizens with each other’s best interests at heart. I became a journalist to change the world and I believe that moving to this role enhances that ability as it opens up the possibilities of more and more powerful partnerships across platforms, formats and audiences.
How do you tackle criticism around the concept of selling content? In particular, the claim that it will destroy the essence of independent editorial.
There’s a very short answer to this. We follow the press ombudsman’s guidelines, which we sought out before we embarked on our first project six years ago. The content is carefully marked, so as not to lie to consumers. It’s very important that every project that is co-created editorially is done in a way that adheres to journalistic ethics. There’re no shortcuts.
Tell us about the power of the written word, specifically in relation to broadcast content marketing?
I’m biased – I’ve always worked in the written word. It has great power because it offers the deepest understanding of a topic. It offers context not just content. Reading is the most powerful act we engage in and while a video snippet has the power to catch the attention; it’s through the written word that you learn more about the subject of that snippet. Education is based on reading, understanding the world comes from reading, building up our worldview and how we live our best lives comes from the written word.
All media has a role to play in educating and informing the public, but the written word delivers the most impact because it deepens understanding. Especially when it’s complemented by the many platforms and formats that our digitising world offers.
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