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Publish or perish

It's impossible to spend any time in academia without encountering the ominous and omnipresent phrase "publish or perish." It's long been a reality in academia, and it's become an equally real state of affairs in business, too.


Wikipedia describes it thusly:


Frequent publication is one of the few methods at scholars' disposal to demonstrate academic talent. Successful publications bring attention to scholars and their sponsoring institutions, which can facilitate continued funding and an individual's progress through a chosen field. In popular academic perception, scholars who publish infrequently, or who focus on activities that do not result in publications, such as instructing undergraduates, may lose ground in competition for available tenure-track positions. The pressure to publish has been cited as a cause of poor work being submitted to academic journals.


The need to publish, and to publish early and often, means living life in a pressure cooker. There's the pressure to come up with the ideas, to translate those ideas into artifacts (blog posts, articles, speeches, PowerPoint decks, social media communications, and other formats too numerous to mention). Then there are the vetting and publishing processes.


Small wonder the publish or perish model has been under scrutiny in academia for decades -- for demanding too much content, too fast. For leading to subpar content that's not up to academic or research standards. For leading to cheating, plagiarism, and other unethical shortcuts. For leading, in short to too much low quality content.


Sound familiar?


The too much noise/too little signal problem is as innate to content marketing as it is to academia. Large brands now publish more content on a weekly basis than did Time Magazine during its heyday. The pressure to feed the beast is real, whether you're building a corporate or a personal brand. This isn't just an observation, but a fact my research confirms. The majority of spending on content marketing technology this year will be on content creation tools, even though when I surveyed marketers and asked what they need (as opposed to what they plan to buy), they cite better tools for audience targeting and measurement.


The only means at a marketer's disposal to address "publish or perish" is with a content strategy, something my research -- as well as others' -- indicates 70 percent of organizations don't formally have, though at this point virtually every business is regularly publishing (or trying to publish) content. Businesses are trying like crazy to plug the gaps. They're investing in software solutions and trying to recruit talent to run their content operations. Executive content marketing roles barely existed two or three years ago. This week alone, three recruiters have rung me up, fishing for candidates.


Publish or perish isn't just for academia anymore. Consistent, frequent, high-quality content in a multiplicity of channels is a business and marketing imperative. It won't happen by itself, and tactics without strategy are a quick route to a downward spiral.


So, what's your content strategy?


Rebecca Lieb is vice president of content marketing at Teradata Marketing Applications.


On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

Rebecca Lieb has published more research on content marketing than anyone else in the field.  As a strategic adviser, her clients range from start-up to non-profits to Fortune 100 brands and regulated industries. She's worked with brands...

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