Guess who suggests content is king and who suggests content isn't king? The answer usually depends on the job of whomever is answering the question.
It seems PR people lean towards giving content the crown. Social media professionals give social the monarchy. And so on.
For my entire career, I've focused on content in one way or another. Content's definition has expanded as the roles involved in creating it and publishing it have evolved. In fact, an entire discipline has emerged just to be more strategic about marketing with content.
And while I've been a defender of content's crown in the past, I've come to understand the truth about the so-called marketing monarchy. There is no king. No queen. No monarchy. The relationship between content, technology and consumer is more of an ecosystem, or perhaps it's just more easily explained using organic terms.
Organs, Kingdoms & Content
Saying that content, or social media or search or the latest shiny new object is king, is like arguing over which organ of the body is most important.
It's actually an old joke where the brain, the blood, the stomach, the eyes and the legs all make their case as to why they are most important. And when the anus makes its case, the rest of the organs simply laugh in disagreement. So the anus shuts down and, a few days later, the other organs apologize and the anus wins the argument. But the point is all of the organs are interrelated and therefore important.
Content, Context, Curation
So whether we're considering paid, owned and earned -- remember the ecosystem. It's all the more critical if you consider the noise consumer's are immersed in through our efforts. And to meet consumer needs and expectations we simply add to the noise.
Brands compete online with more than 1.6 billion messages. EVERY. Single. Day. That's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blog posts and even news releases.
The Business of Content
In Program or be Programmed:10 Commands for a Digital Age, Douglas Rushkoff brings up an even more important point when talking about content's role in capitalism.
Essentially he notes that the internet has helped create a hyper-captialism of sorts wherein the closer you are to value creation the further you are from the money. Just ask anyone writing for Huffington Post (paid or free). There are more examples. But it points us towards the trend of curation.
There are many flavors of curation. And it requires aggregating a good portion of the noise from which to curate the best bits. But it's another part of the ecosystem to keep in mind. We're seeing more examples of media outlets mixing up the ecosystem to provide the best, most relevant product to its readers.
New York Magazine is a great example. It uses original content as a foundation to build upon while curating content and featuring user generated content in the form of web videos.
The King is Dead
Would any media outlet suggest content is king? They'd be ignoring the oxygen paid media brings its brand. And calling it oxygen vs king, queen or court jester is more accurate. So think ecosystem while we dance on the monarchys' respective graves.
UPDATE: Facebook's Vadim Lavrusik reinforces my point in a Nieman Journalisim Lab article noting how story structure has changed in five key ways: context, social, participation, mobile and personalization.