5 tips content marketers should take from journalists

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By Alexandra Reid

 

As companies increasingly opt to bypass the traditional press in favour of content marketing, journalists are being increasingly sought after to tell company stories, communicate with their audiences, and deliver information that is valuable to their marketplaces.

Journalists are known to employ a number of practices to share news and other information with their audiences so that it is persuasive, easily understood and remembered. They tell balanced, well-researched, newsworthy and engaging stories to win the hearts and minds of the masses. Companies are beginning to realize that this style of communication works extraordinarily well for inbound marketing. The content marketing bar is rising as more journalists are hired to these positions and those marketers without journalism backgrounds are now obligated to learn and apply journalism best practices to improve their content marketing activities.

Here are a handful of best practices that I learned during my journalism years that I use to carry out content marketing activities for our agency and its clients:

1. Keep your ear to the ground

Always listen for important news about your company and its industry that could be used to inform your content. I scour the web and my social media channels every morning for new developments that I could use to improve my blog posts or other company content.

2. Tell balanced stories

 

Content marketing is most effective when it is primarily customer-driven as opposed to company-driven. While journalists balance the voices of sources in their stories to remove bias, content marketers must ensure a balance between company and customer voices in their content for it to be convincing. A blog post by a senior company executive about a certain product’s value becomes far more powerful when a customer is quoted in the story supporting the claim. It becomes even more persuasive when an analyst or other credible third party weighs in, and so forth. Aim to balance a wide variety of voices and perspectives in your content to improve its value and integrity.

3. Put the audience first

Further to the previous point, remember that your content is for your audience. Journalists with integrity aren’t mouthpieces for companies or governments; their job is to see through the veil of deception and tell the general public the truth. In creating content for your company, be conscious of your audience, their needs, and their existing knowledge. Don’t try and fool them; rather work to increase their level of understanding about your company, its purpose, and how that fits into the industry at large.

 

4. Get the facts straight

 

Nothing will discredit your content faster than a factual error. Further to that point, widespread access to information on the Internet is making it harder for companies to fool audiences with spin. Your audience will call your bullshit, and when they do it will hit the fan and rain down all over your company; don’t even try it. Have a dedicated managing editor (preferably with a background in journalism) to fact check all your content before it is published and make certain that names are spelled right, links to additional content are correct, and facts about the company, its subjects, and marketplace are accurate.

5. Keep it simple

Journalists are taught to write simply and to not use words that are overly complicated. This is not only to ensure that everyone has access to the news, but to help everyone digest information quickly and remember the facts. To help people consume your content, keep it short and simple. Don’t use unnecessarily long words if there are shorter ones at your disposal. Stick to one line of thought and support one argument. Your ideas don’t have to be simple, but they must be communicated simply to attract and maintain your audience’s attention and help them remember your arguments.

What are your content marketing tips? Share them here.

/// COMMENTS

3 Comments »
  • Nick Stamoulis

    August 09, 2012 9:53 am

    “Keep it simple” is a great tip. Many content marketers, and specifically within B2B, include lots of industry jargon in their content thinking that it looks impressive. That may be the case, to a point, but you don’t want to alienate or confuse any prospects.

  • Alexandra Reid

    August 09, 2012 11:36 am

    Thanks for the comment, Nick!

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