Custom Content Council’s annual call for entries for the 2013 Pearl Award is part of a larger business shift that emphasizes integrated custom content. The award, with an extended deadline through the end of the month, encourages submissions that highlight both small and large business-to-business and business-to-consumer content publishing campaigns. Campaigns can including magazine content, newsletters and web publications that showcase a commitment to excellence.

What sparked my attention was the wide net the council cast for submissions … not to mention a panel of judges including marketing executives, academics, journalists, designers, corporate strategists and publishers. These diverse group of six different personnel roles distinguishes the faceted skill sets a company really needs in order to excel in the content spectrum. A few months ago, I had shared with you that it took an individual or a team with a PR, content, marketing and journalism background to really craft a winning marketing team. Pearl Awards submission scope and diversity in judges reinforces that belief.

Consider integrated custom content as that unyielding Marlin to be grasped with two bare hands in a wide open sea. Content marketing is that Marlin. You are the individual tasked with taming the beast. In order to achieve you really need an integrated plan … and not just the afore mentioned DIY approach.

Digital Strategist and Pace Perspectives VP, Kevin Briody offers a game plan for mastering integrated content. In a PDF entitled “Crafting an Integrated Content Marketing Strategy,” Briody defines an integrated campaign as “an interdisciplinary mix of content strategy, digital marketing, and platform planning (from mobile to web to social), focused on transforming content into a unique, pervasive, and powerful marketing asset for your organization. It is not a marketing strategy built around interrupting – the hallmark of traditional advertising – but about using content to inspire an audience to engage with your brand in ways that matter to your business.”

Most of us respect that a content life-cycle includes several tiers of planning, including strategy, research, writing, marketing, and analytics. Briody takes it three steps further. He breaks down the art of content into 3 sub tiers that speak to the heart of content: content strategy, platform strategy, and engagement strategy. During the pursuit of content marketing, it’s the engagement that often gets left on the sidelines. Engagement, as Briody says, is the “Digital marketing and communications tactics (from search engine optimization (SEO) and social media to syndication and integrations) that ensure your audience discovers your content and platforms in the right mindset to drive toward desired outcomes.” Meanwhile, most marketing departments don’t even consider platform, which are the “hubs and outposts of your content distribution network that will define how and where the community encounters and engages with your content.” It’s probably one of the best most thought-out informative PDFs I’ve read this year that really tackles the content conundrum.

Touching back on the spectrum of resources necessary to push forth a great integrated content campaign, keep in mind that your content strategy also needs to translate just as seamlessly across other mediums. You might have content pegged in a hole, but what about the branding, graphic design, newsletter and print campaigns that accompany your core content? Is there a synergy that advocates your brand and story?