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Owen Forward: “The Art and Business of Content Creation”

Apr 15, 2022
Owen Forward session focuses on the ‘Creative Economy’ and the implications for brands, influencers, and consumers

By Mackenzie Burckbuchler

As part of the Owen Forward series, Adjunct Professor of Management Dr. J.J. Peterson and Sam Graber (MBA’01) sat down to host a discussion on “The Art and Business of Content Creation.” Peterson and Graber unpacked the creative economy and discussed how this ever-changing world influences the way brands and companies need to interact with consumers. We highlight some of the key takeaways below. 

What is the creative economy?

Over the past 20 years, the distribution of content has changed drastically. Whereas intermediaries used to heavily influence brands and individuals, the creative economy now grants these content creators more autonomy. “When we think of the creative economy, the top-of-mind recall or instant association is the individual creator, who is generating messaging that is direct-to-consumer without any intermediary altering or appending the media,” said Graber. 

Peterson describes this shift as “the democratization of content creation and media.” With fewer intermediaries, the public is now more accessible. Messages can be distributed through channels like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. As these social media channels build their influence, individual content creators are empowered to spread their messages and create a following. “The power that social media influencers have has really changed how mass audiences are receiving information and perceiving information,” said Graber. Brands understand the importance of leveraging these influencers to reach important, engaged audiences. 

How can businesses engage in the creative economy?

If businesses want to reach the public, they must exist in the creative economy. While it is important for brands to engage here, Peterson and Graber emphasize that brands must do so authentically. Rather than just selling to customers, brands should be providing value and explaining how they are helping the industry and world. “Understand what type of communication you want to have, not just today, but for the next several years. Understand the values you have as a company and the values that are the underpinning of your brand,” said Graber. Although the platforms used to engage with audiences might change, those values can remain consistent, which will allow the brand to best connect with the public overtime. 

When partnering with influencers, brands should ensure the influencer believes in the brand and the product independent of the compensation. The connection between the brand and influencer should be clear. Additionally, brands should only engage on the platforms where their audience is most active. “Identify where your audience is hanging out and where they are connecting with people of similar values, and put yourself there,” said Peterson. He noted that, even if TikTok or Instagram allow you broad reach, if your target customer is not on those platforms, do not waste your time on them. If brands understand their customers and their values, they can craft an effective strategy to dive into this creative economy and make an impact. 

Where is the creative economy headed?

Although it is difficult to predict how exactly the creative economy will evolve, Graber stresses that cause-based action and social change action are growing in importance within this creative economy. “I believe more and more brands and more and more businesses want to align themselves with influencers who are authentic and who are operating on behalf of change for the good of the world,” he said. Younger consumers appreciate this authenticity and reward brands that display it. 

To learn more about how the creative economy is disrupting the traditional way businesses communicate, and to learn more about influencers’ role and stake in this, watch the recorded session here

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