Content is king in both traditional and custom publishing, according to a group of publishers speaking at a January American Business Media-sponsored breakfast. Mainstream publishers entering the custom publishing arena should encourage marketers to add solid edit as dictated by their customers to their custom publications, said Joseph Pulizzi, group director for Penton Media’s custom media division. "It has to be content of significance," he said. "And it should be part of a dialogue. It shouldn’t be a one-way conversation. You have to have that exchange, just like we’re seeing in traditional publishing."
Michael Hurley, vice president of custom publishing for Hanley Wood, said publishers should let customers control the process. "Today’s customers want to control what they’ll read, how they’ll read it, and, in many ways, are dictating the price of what they are reading," he said.
For custom Web sites, Hurly suggested allowing readers the opportunity to request more information and the opportunity to comment on talking points on blogs or community forums.
Andrew Pacer, chief operating officer of About.com, said publishers also should clearly delineate between advertising and edit content. "You want to use the Internet to provide interactive opportunities to engage the customer," he said. "But when you’re packaging your content, you want to make a clear delineation between ad and edit content. Doing that adds credibility to your content."