Why does a content marketing agency need a code of ethics? Because words can be incredibly powerful.
58% of consumers trust editorial content AND 58% trust branded websites (source: Nielsen). Unlike editorial content published by reputable journalism outlets, there is no code of ethics for branded websites.
While marketing clearly has a very different goal than journalism, it is still critical to the future of the industry that we not squander the trust of our audience. That is why Concentric Content Marketing has followed in the footsteps of journalism associations like the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio and Television Digital News Association and built our standard of ethics.
We believe that it is our responsibility as a trusted source of information that we live by the following content marketing code of ethics:
Content marketers should understand that their first responsibility is to their audience. A brand may pay your salary but it is your obligation to build a relationship with your audience through accurate, honest and helpful information. If you haven’t done that, you haven’t done your job.
- A content marketer should provide their audience with accurate information.
- Every content piece should be researched thoroughly. Research can help avoid inadvertent error and provide context for information.
- Sources of information, quotes and data should be cited properly. Link to more information whenever possible.
- Content marketers should never distort facts or use headlines, photos, graphics, quotations or other items that misrepresent the content.
- Avoid stereotyping or imposing your own biases on the information you are providing.
- Never plagiarize.
- Draw a line between an opinion and fact. Feel free to make recommendations and provide advice through content, but be certain to represent opinions as such.
- We all know content marketing has an ultimate goal of boosting an organization’s bottom line. That includes your audience. They are aware that at the end of the day, you work for an organization that would like to do business with them. The important ethical line here is whether you are transparent about your interest in working together. Content marketers should focus on creating a long-term relationship built on trust, while always striving to provide the audience with the most accurate information possible.
- Clearly distinguish between advertising and content marketing. Paid guest posts and advertorials should be disclosed.
- Content marketers should always aim to treat others with respect and dignity. Dialogues on public platforms can leave openings for competitors and trolls to join the conversation. Always treat others with respect, no matter what.
- Be sensitive when writing about, or in the wake of, major news events – particularly when it could impact someone adversely.
- Show good taste, avoid using salacious content just to boost numbers.
- Your name and your organization’s name will be associated with your content marketing. Recognize that you AND your organization will be held accountable for your content marketing efforts. Act accordingly.
- Be open to responses and critiques from others. Content is a conversation so don’t be afraid to listen to the thoughts of others.
- Mistakes happen, we are all human. Own up to your mistakes, try to correct them, and whenever possible, learn from them.
- Take pride in your work. Focus on quality over quantity and always work towards telling the best story possible.
At Concentric Content Marketing, these are the standards we will uphold in our work. We invite you to join us. Contact us to work together or share your thoughts on ethical standards in the marketing industry.