How to tell news and content marketing apart

Content marketing is growing fast as 77% of companies are increasing their content marketing efforts. How do you distinguish between real news and content marketing?

Here’s one sure-fire way:

News tells you the most important parts of the story first. Content marketing holds the best parts to the middle or the end.

It’s getting harder to differentiate between news and content marketing. That’s partly because there’s so much content marketing these days — often with very valuable content, too. To make things harder, some news is actually content marketing in disguise. And some content marketing is actually news.

But journalists are trained to provide the most newsworthy, most important, and most relevant pieces first. That way, however much time you have to read, you’re always getting the most critical parts.

Content marketers want something from you.

They want your interest, your attention, your share, your name, your sign-up, your email address, your company name, and as much more as they can get. There’s nothing wrong with this: I have done it myself on the TUNE blog from time to time. Readers make a choice: you can get something of value (data, insight, advice) if you give something of value (the ability for a company or person to sell to you at higher resolution and greater depth).

If purposes are aligned, this can work.

But it’s important to know what you’re reading — what class of thing you’re reading. You will read news differently than you will read content marketing … and you should. I also write news for Forbes, and Inc. Magazine.

The formats and the requirements are different, as are the goals.

Now you know how to tell the difference.


I’m starting to re-think content marketing. I’m re-thinking the part about not giving away everything I have researched and written without a sign-up or personal information. I’m testing just giving it all away. Early returns are quite successful … but more on this another time. Perhaps!