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How content marketing teams can learn from newsrooms

This is a sponsored post from King Content

As the explosion of content continues unabated and reader fatigue sets in, brands will only find it harder to jostle for attention. Want to make your content stand out? Perhaps it’s time to go back to the basics of how to come up with a compelling story idea.

In 2016, more than two-thirds of B2C and B2B marketers alike in North America expect to produce more content than they did last year, according to research published by the Content Marketing Institute.

More than just being an antidote for content saturation, having differentiated and high-quality content is also really important for SEO, especially since Google has made Panda part of its core algorithm. Kiss those days of keyword stuffing goodbye, because that would only hurt your ranking.

One way to beat the glut of cookie-cutter articles on the internet is by applying journalism skills right from the content ideation stage. Here’s how to lift the quality of your stories.

Create unique content

When I worked at a newspaper and had to pitch a story idea, I would invariably get the question: Has this story been done before? If so, how can we make it different?

Many brands today want to be thought leaders but are not willing to invest in the time and effort it takes to create interesting, original content. As a result, they end up publishing material that is essentially a rehash of what can be found ubiquitously.

Do “10 tips on running a small business” and “Five ways to survive the terrible twos” sound familiar? That’s because you’ve probably seen 50 similar articles.

That’s not to say that such evergreen content has no place in your editorial calendar. While it should stay, having fresh content is just as crucial if you want to connect with your target audience.

In the newsroom, journos are often asked by their editors: What is the news peg or hook? What makes this story worth telling now? Why should readers care about it? On the contrary, I’ve observed that few organisations are drawing content ideas from local headlines or current affairs.

Lead, not follow

At times, being an opinion leader might even mean bringing a story to the surface that is not necessarily clickbaity, but is one you think deserves attention from your audience. To borrow from the American Press Institute, “Journalism is storytelling with a purpose… It must balance what readers know they want with what they cannot anticipate but need.” This is otherwise known as agenda setting, which is also practised by newsrooms.

I remember a recent conversation with one of our clients on content performance. He was clear in his communications objectives and didn’t want us basing editorial decisions primarily on what kind of stories were getting more page views.

While less sexy topics may garner fewer clicks, organisations could still choose to weigh in on these areas because they feel they are important enough to their readers and/or want to be seen as a go-to provider of content in that niche. This is particularly true for B2B clients.

What’s holding brands back?

I suspect some of the reasons why not enough companies are developing new and unique content are:

  • They haven’t defined their audience enough, so they struggle to identify timely and relevant issues readers will care about.
  • They don’t have a proper editorial brainstorming process where editors and stakeholders come together to do the above.

These are not difficult to achieve. For starters, ensure you have a solid content strategy and, by this, I don’t mean a branding or marketing strategy – which is quite different. Once you know who you’re talking to and what you want to talk about, the next step is to build the editorial resources you need, preferably working with writers from journalism backgrounds and editors who can uphold the high content standards you want to be known for.

There are multiple factors at play in making your content stick, but getting it right at the content development phase will give you a great head start in becoming a real thought leader.

The writer is Gracia Chiang, King Content.

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