Content has been king for awhile now, and here at C&EN, we strive to bring brands these rich and unique ways to reach their audiences. Now with the latest addition to the C&EN Media Group team, our branded content editor, we are further helping science marketers by developing content-rich media that can fill sales pipelines or bring brand awareness. We asked our new team member, Mitch, to share details about what this type of work entails.
Welcome, Mitch! Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what drew you to C&EN?
Garcia: Thank you! I received my PHD in chemistry in 2009 from the University of California at Berkeley with a focus on Nuclear and Radiochemistry. After that, I took a post doc position at UCLA working in molecular pharmacology.
While at UCLA, I published a somewhat popular chemistry blog that addressed issues facing chemists, exposed scandals, and even incorporated some light humor. It was a little like being a reporter. At one point, I uncovered a case of fraud involving nano chopsticks, which led to a significant increase in popularity of the site.
By this time, I knew I wanted to leverage writing as a career rather than go into academia, so when a position at C&EN opened, I applied. My first job here was as a production editor and I did a lot of writing, including a monthly column called “Patent Picks.” This involved choosing a topic each month and figuring out what recent patents (within the last year) were driving that sector – both the industrial and research chemistry fields. Now, I’ve taken on this content editor role within the C&EN Media Group, which supports our marketing and advertising efforts.
While my reputation in the science writing field was an asset, it also helped that I have been an active ACS member since 1998, so I’m familiar with both the depth and breadth of the field. And since nearly all chemists read C&EN, this has all been a chance for me to further establish myself as leader in science content on a larger playing field.
What exactly does the branded content editor do?
Garcia: There are four core areas I work on. First there are white papers. These tend to be very technical, thus the need for a chemist to produce them. Second, our webinars program, which is conducted in partnership with companies in the industry and can also be quite technical. They focus on cutting edge research, new technologies and the latest instruments and their capabilities, and are excellent lead generation tools for many businesses.
I’m also responsible for the C&EN Supplements that you occasionally get with your weekly issue. These are generally heavy thought pieces on a specific subject matter. And finally, (and probably the most fun part of my job) are the Show Dailies. These print publications come out daily at ACS national meetings and CPhI meetings. It’s a digital and print digest that focuses on what’s happening on the expo floor – how are marketers reaching customers, and events at certain booths – as well as highlights of the sessions. So in short, I’m an editor for advertiser produced materials, ensuring that the science behind them is factual and on par with the credibility of the C&EN magazine itself.
Marketing to scientists can be challenging at times. As a scientist yourself, can you provide some insight on how to best reach them? What tactics and mediums reach you now, versus when you were in a lab or in school?
Garcia: Incentives vary depending on where one is in their career. As a grad student, free food and “swag” are always a good way to attract a large audience of scientists. Event marketing can be really important for this demographic. ACS meetings for instance, have a large student attendee component, so our Show Dailies tend to be popular with advertisers because they can publicize booth activities.
As a postdoc, poor customer service can be a deal-breaker. Lab equipment will always break down, but if you’re on a timeline, you can’t afford equipment shutting down for a month or two.
For instance, when I was at UCLA, Nikon in the LA area was very responsive. So when it came time to purchase new equipment, I remained loyal to that brand because of my previous positive experience with their service. This cannot be underestimated, so conveying reliability in your products to scientists is very important. It’s not always about being less expensive than your competitor.
There is a lot of change happening in the chemistry field right now. Which changes should science marketers be paying attention to, in order to better understand the world of chemists?
Garcia: Broadly speaking, since federal money has leveled off, more chemists are becoming entrepreneurial. This phenomenon has created a need for outsourced work – like service providers for repairs, and more partners to help move inventions to the next level. It’s wise for companies to understand that this is happening, and determine how to best leverage the shift. It comes back to understanding your customers’ pain points, and speaking to them clearly.
As a writer for a publication with a strong weekly print edition, what role do you see print having in the future? How has C&EN adapted to this rapidly changing publication and information environment, and what can other science marketers learn from C&EN?
Garcia: As a part of the American Chemical Society, we have two very distinct insights on the reading habits of scientists since we publish both peer-reviewed journals as well as a scientific news weekly. The interest in peer-reviewed articles is very much on-demand – they are something people search for intentionally and read with specific purpose. There is still a high value placed on the printed copy of C&EN Magazine, but for a different reason. People enjoy flipping through it for discovery, entertainment, and insight on what’s new and trending. While you have to understand the motivations of your audience, you also have to understand your audience in the context of the ecosystem you serve. This is the best way to inform new initiatives or marketing plans: by asking yourself How do I fit into the day-to-day of my audience?
Being able to adapt is more important than ever, so our advertising team is always looking at what new products will be of interest to our readers. But at the end of the day, the success of print can come down to straight journalism, and C&EN writers are award-winning and respected, and they care about how their stories are serving the chemical enterprise.
Thank you to Mitch for speaking with us and sharing his insights. You can contact him at email@example.com. For more guidance on marketing to a scientific audience, read additional posts on C&EN Media Group’s blog, Marketing Elements. You can also tweet us at @CENMediaGroup.
Keywords: ACS Show Daily, brand journalism, branded journalism, branding, C&EN, C&EN Media Group, C&EN Supplements, content marketing, CPhI, Custom Content, Print, Show Daily, technical content, white papers