Part 1: Think Like a Journalist in the Content Planning Stage
I recently wrote about the power of stories and how more and more organizations are starting to recognize the need to integrate authentic storytelling into their marketing programs. But how do you put that power into practice for your content marketing strategy? One of the best ways to do this is to take a more journalistic storytelling approach to curating and creating content.
Journalists are trained to think and write in a very specific way. The best journalists are able to use this training to not only tell a good story, but to do so in a targeted, concise, accurate, and compelling way. These are some of the same skills that great content marketers possess—and they know how to apply and adapt these skills to take their content marketing to the next level for their specific organization’s industry and goals.
I’ll dive deeper into how to integrate these concepts and skills into your content marketing strategy over the next few posts, but let’s start with some tips for that first—and often most difficult—step to content generation: deciding what stories to tell.
Here a few quick tips for thinking like a journalist in the content planning and story gathering stage of content marketing:
Always Be Curious
The best journalists have a naturally insatiable curiosity about everything around them. Their eyes and ears are always open, whether they’re actively looking for a story or not. They notice things others don’t and think about how events and ideas might impact their audience in ways that are interesting, unknown, or misunderstood. Try to adopt this mindset and you might be surprised how many stories are right in front of you! When you see, hear, or think of something that even remotely relates to your industry or topic area, jot it down in a notebook or on your phone so you can come back to it later and see if there’s a story there.
Know Your Audience
One of the first things journalists are trained to do is evaluate potential stories (aka leads) based on newsworthiness. There are several news values that journalists typically consider when making coverage choices—including timeliness, proximity, impact, prominence, oddity, relevance, and conflict—and content marketers can use these news values as a starting point when evaluating their own content leads. This ultimately means we must always keep the audience in mind when deciding whether or not a story should be told. There is some debate about how relevant the traditional tenants of newsworthiness are today, but the core idea behind them still applies. A story isn’t necessarily worth telling if you can’t answer this key question: Who cares? Know your audience and always keep their interests (and your marketing goals) in mind when deciding what stories to pursue.
Get the Scoop
You don’t necessarily need to go full-on investigative journalist here, but make sure your content is as unique, interesting, relevant, and useful as possible. It can be tough to come up with a topic that is 100% original these days, but at the very least your content should be contributing to the conversation, offering an alternate perspective/idea, or packaging information in a new way that provides added value to your target audience. This is another area where knowing your audience is crucial. Additionally, staying curious and paying attention to what hot topics are being discussed—and what’s not being said or heard—is a great way to get the scoop or come up with a unique angle for your next piece of content.