Cool Story, bro: Jarvis and Sneddon launch new digital content marketing agency

The appetite for content marketing is growing rapidly, with much of it happening in the digital space. Many brands have invested in their own content marketing teams and platforms. Publishers like Fairfax, APN and Tangible Media all have their own content marketing teams working on both digital and print. And agencies of all stripes are also trying to make hay while the sun shines by filling up the variety of channels consumers now use. Now Brendan Jarvis and Ron Sneddon have joined the fray with Story, a standalone business that has a “laser-like focus” on digital content marketing.

Jarvis, who owns digital marketing agency The Space in Between, and ex-journalist Sneddon, who recently opened media strategy agency, Super, already work together. But they saw a need for something new. 

“While a lot has changed in the digital age, we believe story telling is the very essence of great communications. But brands need to think about creating relevant content and less about advertising campaigns,” says Sneddon in a release. “Let’s face it, consumers have a very low level of engagement when a company waxes on about celebrating their birthday or doing a St Paddy’s day special.”

The pair say Story operates like a publisher, with writers, videographers and editors creating content for clients’ digital and social media platforms. It has set up five services, which clients can pick and choose. These are content strategy, creation and management, content amplification and analytics. With the clients, they’ll map out a strategy with the right creative territories and mix of channels.

In addition to account manager Laura Surrich brought over from The Space in Between, Story has eight content creators on board – specialist writers in health, banking, finance, tourism, construction and observational writing (humour). Sneddon says they’re made up of ex- or current journos, videographers and designers, “a bit like a publishing company”. But they’re all trained to write for the web.

Sneddon says many companies will have their own team of content managers and copywriters, but the percentage in New Zealand to have an official team is quite small. Story is aiming to either assist existing teams, or provide the full service to those companies without their own team. It also offers SEO – for example, for Video Ezy’s recently-launched ondemand platform.

Even though they seem to be sharing resources, Sneddon says a reason to create a separate company is that he and Jarvis wanted to be able to have content marketing as the sole focus. “Both our companies do other things as well as digital content marketing, and we wanted to instead have a laser-like focus on it. We wanted to be able to put forward writers and other content creators to clients. If you look at a lot of the content created out there, it’s about the client and not the customer. A journalist’s training is to gather facts and to look behind them to the real story, and they write better, more to the point. They’re also looking for stories versus PR.”

He says many clients can tend to get fixated on themselves, which doesn’t make for great content for the consumer.

Jarvis says in a release that when they looked at the market they discovered many businesses “had mitigated their digital media platform management to either the receptionist or their traditional agency’s copywriter, neither of whom are making the most out of it”.

Of course, not everyone thinks content is the answer and The Ad Contrarian believes it’s simply the newest marketing con because it can be anything you want it to be. In many cases it seems to be aimed at filling in the gaps between bigger ads, or as ASB’s Anna Curson says, finding consumers in the nooks and crannies and trying to offer them something useful and relevant. 

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