Time for the Mat Release to Evolve

Xerox. Icebox. Billfold.

If you still use these terms, you might be dating yourself. These days we make a photocopy – or to go even more modern, a copy – of something instead of Xeroxing it. And we keep our foods chilled in the refrigerators and store money in a wallet, not a billfold.

What’s interesting about the content marketing industry is that the mat release (no matter how you choose to spell the word “mat”) is still a great brand awareness and public relations tool but implemented in a little bit different way. A mat release started out as an article created specifically for publication, matted out (or laid out) ahead of time for the newspaper’s formatting. This made these articles appealing to editors who had empty space to fill, but didn’t have the time to spend hours formatting submitted content prior to deadline.

Over time, computers have removed the need for “matting”, and the digital era now requires newspaper editors to spend minimal time using copy and paste buttons for formatting before sending the issue to the printer. Newspaper editors don’t appreciate anything “pre-formatted” anymore because chances are, the formatting doesn’t match their newspaper styles, and they have to redo it anyway. What they’re looking for is the content to fill empty space – specifically quality journalistic writing that provides their readers with useful information that they don’t have to assign a reporter to cover.

So maybe we need to modernize the term mat release a bit.

Publishers often use the term brand journalism. Here are some other suggestions to get the conversation started:

  • Advertorial
  • Targeted content
  • Content copy
  • Commercial content
  • Reader enlightenment articles
  • Brand boosters
  • Covert advertising

OK, the last three are a little bit more on the fun side, but reader enlightenment articles puts a smile on my face, especially if you can say it three times fast!

Check out an earlier blog on how the 2.0 version of mat releases came to be.

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