By Kirk Bado, Guest Blogger | 8.27.16
A website for a power company does not immediately conjure images of outstanding marketing content.
But Ike Pigott is working to alter that perception.
Pigott is a communications strategists at Alabama Power, and he is changing the way corporations handle their news. Since 2008, he has pivoted the utility company away from simply using its website as a spot to host press releases, to now becoming a leader in the burgeoning field of brand journalism.
“Content marketing, is one of the more direct and valuable ways to reach people with a message in today’s climate… Brand journalism is a subset in content marketing,” he said.
Pigott uses the Alabama Power platform to build an audience not just focused on updates from the company, but a mix of news and content curation for the State of Alabama. He runs the website like a traditional news outlet, telling stories that fit the brand of Alabama, instead of focusing exclusively on reiterating internal company news
“You can’t do enough talking about yourself and develop an audience to it,” Pigott said.
Since May last year, he has focused efforts on generating content that might not directly relate to Alabama Power, but instead building an audience based on the content of their more community driven news stories.
“You’re not graded on intent, you’re graded on effectiveness,” he explained.
And the content has been very effective. After the shift, the site is getting more than 100,000 visits a month, which might not rival traditional news sites, but dwarfs other corporate news publications. By taking a more traditional news publication approach to content advertising, Alabama Power is drawing the attention of local newspapers and even Google News aggregates. Traditional media outlets are now lifting stories from his site to run them in their publications.
Pigott says he is ecstatic with the content being pushed by other outlets; to him, it is not about getting the most page views or traffic. Because Alabama Power is a public utility, his ultimate employer is the State of Alabama. The goal is marketing the larger message of Alabama to young people looking for jobs.
“They don’t have to go to Austin or Boston or Silicon Valley to have a great career, you can do it here,” he explained. “If we can tell the type of stories that reinforce that, then that’s a win for us.”
Pigott garnered this new audience by breaking down the internal silos of Alabama Power’s marketing, advertising, and design components. He’s streamlined all departments to generate content for their brand journalism. Now the company can quickly respond to the trends of its growing audience, and meet them where they are.
“If you’re able to make a shift in a timely fashion, you are in a great position to meet them where they are going to be,” he said. “That’s the process that is going to take you – and your organization – to where you need to be.”
Connect with Pigott on Twitter.
On September 8, Ike Pigott presents The Case for Brand Journalism at the NAMA Power Lunch at City Winery. Register now.
Editor’s Note: The NAMA Power Lunch podcast is a production of Relationary Marketing in partnership with the Nashville American Marketing Association. This episode was produced by Chuck Bryant and host Clark Buckner, with editing support from Jess Grommet and music by Zachary D. Noblitt.
Kirk Bado is a student and freelance writer at Belmont University and storyteller for Relationary Marketing, a podcast agency that produces broadcast-quality interviews to create engaging strategic content and nurture high-value relationships.