Courtney Matthews has been creating marketing concepts for outdoor brands since 1994. She's done stints at media outlets like BACKPACKER and Bicycling magazines, as well as at big brands like The North Face and Sierra Designs.

Recently joining the Active Interest Media team as Marketing and Business Development Director of the Outdoor Group (which includes SNEWS as well as BACKPACKER, Climbing, National Parks Trips), Matthews is a niche-marketing pro and a whiz for active audiences with a passion. Her top priority is helping brands define and communicate their authentic messages through execute advertising partnerships. 

Courtney Matthews and friends backpacking in the 90s

Circa 1995. The North Face product development team and marketing team hit the trail. From left to right: John Stetz, Luke Pezzimenti, Eric Rice, Courtney Matthews, Andy Burgess, Jamie Tipton, Dana Donley Morton, and Jon Schleuning.  

From her home office in Pennsylvania, she shared with us her expertise that is based on her eclectic yet focused marketing experience with outdoor audiences.

SNEWS: Content marketing has evolved so much in recent years, from somewhat of a dirty word (i.e. advertorial) to a powerful marketing tool for brands who have good story to tell. What types of brands should be thinking about ways to invest in creative content marketing projects?

CM: I think all the brands should. Developing a successful piece of native content starts with a consumer-facing topic, which is then supported with relevant examples of the sponsor's products. It is true educational and service journalism first with a natural integration of brand-specific content. It’s a way to integrate a brand’s message with agnostic content. All brands should explore how it works for them. It's powerful because it places a brand's message right alongside trusted information from a trusted source – that’s the beauty of it.

The sweet spot for native content is when ads are authenticated by a trusted publication. We know that clients invest money in their own content, but the difference here is that the brand is partnering with a trusted source, such as SNEWS or BACKPACKER or another content provider, to produce the content, leveraging a trusted voice with a targeted, engaged audience.

SNEWS: Can you give us some examples of brands that have done really well with content marketing?

CM: The category that we get the most traction has been in hard goods, and we get the most requests from the travel industry. Some great examples are Farm to Feet, Trayvax, Casio, West Virginia Blogger campaign, Downtek, and La Sportiva

SNEWS: As a marketing specialist, what are your biggest challenges and opportunities in this ever-changing time of media?

CM: Very literally, challenges are the other side of an opportunity. I think that with the way media is changing, it’s exciting but it’s also a challenge to keep up and evolve without forgetting the fundamentals, such as surrounding yourself with people who are experts in a particular field. Technology is one example. It’s now a daily learning experience, but the benefit is that it’s enhancing communication and bringing departments together.

I always love to brainstorm with brands on how we can collaborate on content. Shoot me an email at cmatthews@aimmedia.com and let’s talk!

Related

shannon davis in sunglasses

Shannon Davis returns home to BACKPACKER

For most people, the first week of any job entails meetings, paperwork, introductions, a building tour, and lots of administrative details to contend with. But Shannon Davis's first week as BACKPACKER's new editor-in-chief was much more, well, BACKPACKER. The team spent last ...read more

Unknown copy

Opinion: Brands need to double down on marketing spends right now

The pandemic has created mayhem for all of us. Earlier this spring, at Formidable Media, we received more than one phone call from clients who wanted to put their plans on hold. Some needed time to assess the damage to their supply chains. Some wanted to defer payments to ...read more

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 10.14.42 AM

Harnessing the power of "trail magic"

What’s more important to today’s consumer—the product, or the story behind it?  In a crowded outdoor market, the determining factor has increasingly come down to the brand’s background and what it stands for, says Sue Harvey-Brown.  She has seen firsthand the power of brand ...read more

BobbiCropped

Insights from a seasoned sales rep

Bobbi Gale Bensman has spent more than three decades working within the industry. She started back in 1981 at Desert Mountain Sports in Phoenix, Arizona, while climbing professionally at the same time. She retired from the climbing circuit in 1999, but continued building her ...read more

MOB_imaage

Maine business leaders unite to ignite outdoor economy

It’s one of the more sparsely populated states in the union, but with abundant coastline, thick woods, craggy peaks, and its flagship national park (Acadia), Maine is no lightweight when it comes to outdoor recreation. In fact, Maine is home to 76,000 outdoor industry jobs and ...read more

Brian Vargo, Vargo CEO

A conversation with “Titanium Man”

Brian Vargo has a thing for titanium. His love affair with the superlight, superstrong, and quite expensive metal began on the Appalachian Trail in 1995. He simply wanted a lighter load for his thru-hike. He began his quest for minimal weight by developing titanium tent stakes, ...read more

TNF top of images

The North Face apologizes for 'manipulating' Wikipedia photos

The North Face’s latest marketing stunt isn’t about elevating women or getting more people outside. And no, it’s not about public lands either. The highly-regarded global brand earlier this week bragged that it had found a loophole to crawl to the top of Google’s search results ...read more

John Sterling along a creek wearing a Patagonia puffy

John Sterling's past, present, and future in conservation

Fifty-two million acres protected. Three thousand, four hundred river miles preserved. Fourteen climbing areas saved. Five marine reserves preserved. Thirty-four dams halted or removed. The numbers John Sterling leaves behind him—after more than 20 years of protecting North ...read more

Screen Shot 2020-06-08 at 3.58.51 PM

Opinion: Are we setting the stage for real change, or is history repeating itself?

In 1992, I was hired as the first black independent sales representative for The North Face (TNF). Back then, TNF was privately owned and headquartered in Berkeley, California. On the way home from my very first sales meeting, I happened to bump into the company president, Bill ...read more