Susan Murphy figures she’s been doing content marketing since she was graduated from Marquette University with a degree in journalism 30 years ago and landed a job as an assistant account executive at Edelman Public Relations. Still, sitting in meetings lately with younger, tech-savvy associates, she has been wondering if everything has been moving faster than her ability to keep up through hands-on osmosis.
“My biggest fear is becoming a dinosaur,” she says. And so, when she saw an offer for a free trial of lynda.com, the online learning company acquired by LinkedIn in April for $1.5 billion, she signed up not only to learn new skills, but also to see if she really knew what she thought she did about posting, tweeting and brand vigilance, 24/7.
“The first day that I logged on and started taking notes about what courses I’d be interested in, I came up with 32 of them,” she says. “Most are in areas related to content marketing.”
Over the years, Murphy has ghostwritten op-eds and letters to the editor, implemented internal and external communications plans as an in-house manager and freelance consultant, and developed scripts and speeches for the likes of General Electric’s Jeffrey Immelt, Time Inc.’s Dick Parsons and America’s Walter Cronkite.
Not that emerging content platforms have escaped her attention. Murphy has long been a fervent personal networker on Facebook and LinkedIn. As senior vice president of public relations for the Ad Council in the late ’00s, Murphy was responsible for introducing social media programs into the mix of the organization's public service advertising campaigns.
“Content marketing is something I’ve always done naturally,” she says, “but I feel like it is becoming a specialty with certain formulas and best practices.” And that has made the formulaic press release about as relevant as the press agents of yore looking to get their clients a line or two of “ink” from a newspaper columnist.
“It’s all about delivering value now, because everyone is suffering from information overload and time poverty,” Murphy says.
There are several educational options open to mid-career professionals who want to keep up with digitally native Millennials, such as Marketing Profs, the Content Marketing Institute, and many events, including MediaPost summits.
Academia is getting into the act, too. The Newhouse School at Syracuse University, for example, has partnered with the social media platform company Hootsuite in a self-paced, 15-lesson “Advanced Social Media Strategy” course that takes most students 60 hours to complete and provides an “industry recognized” credential when they do.
Then again, there’s the time-honored technique of crying for help when you need it.
Last week Emma Siemasko posted about being asked to write a video script by the owner of a company for whom she had created “hundreds of blog posts, emails, and other marketing assets.” She had never done a script before, but quickly said “yes” — and then asked two colleagues in the know for some brainstorming help. She now has enough experience to pass along tips herself about the fastest-growing segment in content marketing.
Meanwhile, Murphy has so far taken three courses on lynda.com. Two were about Twitter, and mostly confirmed that she pretty much knows what’s what with 140-character branding messages, though she says she learned a few useful tips about photo use. But an offering about Google Analytics took her well beyond her basic understanding, enabling her to tailor future reporting to exactly what her clients need to know.
Murphy immediately signed on for a subscription to Lynda.com when her trial ended. Different packages range from $19.99 to S34.99 per month for unlimited access to all videos.
Besides the extensive course list, Murphy “loves” the way the information is presented (“I can hit pause and take notes”), the additional articles that are available on trending topics, and the overall cost, ease and convenience. “You know, I could learn anything on there,” she says -- with only a hint of incredulity. Online reviewers like PCMag.com’s Jill Duffy are similarly effusive.
On Monday Murphy is starting a new staff position as the director of communications for Friends of Recovery -- New York. It’s a cause she’s passionate about, so the expected long hours and heavy travel schedule don’t daunt her at all. But she has promised herself to make the time to complete at least one course a week on lynda.com, whether it’s something to do directly with content or finally learning HTML.
So, what are you doing to stay relevant?