It wasn’t that long ago that marketing and journalism were considered opposite ends of the content producing spectrum.
Journalists and news organisations were seen as authority figures reporting in a more or less unbiased tone on factual matters, while business and marketing organisations were viewed with suspicion as having a sales agenda.
But, now that the internet has given anyone the ability to become an ‘authority’ and produce and distribute their own content, the lines between traditional authoritative journalism and marketing are becoming increasingly blurred.
The convergence of the two fields means that many brands are now publishers in their right, producing editorial material known as content marketing. Whether it is well-researched and factual articles, or opinion pieces, content marketing is becoming more and more like journalism.
Traditional news outlets, in turn, are offering more than just the news – they value-add their websites with other content, and market themselves on social media. They are becoming more like corporate brands in order to stand out in the online space.
While there are lessons to be learned on both sides, it is becoming more and more important for marketers to understand what makes effective content. This is where thinking like a journalist can be helpful. Focus on quality, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that everything you publish has to have a sales focus.
Here are five traditional newsroom principles that you can incorporate into your content marketing for improved results:
1. Position yourself as an authority. If you are seen to have an obvious agenda, people will very quickly lose interest in reading your content. If you demonstrate your authority and your ability to solve a particular problem of theirs, however, they are more likely to keep returning and eventually buy your product or service.
2. Find the story behind your business. Good content engages the reader on an emotional level, so make sure you present the story behind your business to help customers identify with your brand image. This can be the personal history behind your business, or an objective you are trying to achieve.
3. Produce regular content. Just like news outlets produce daily news reports, it is important that you are consistent and regular with your content. Your readers will start to expect regular content, and if you don’t deliver they can lose interest or even feel disappointed. Producing regular up to date content also builds your reputation as an authority in your industry, or at least someone with their finger on the pulse.
4. Build your credibility by building trust with your readers. Make sure you display integrity when talking about competitors, always be honest and present well researched facts wherever possible. When it comes to content marketing, building trust is one of the key elements of success.
5. Write good quality content. Poorly written or unengaging content can have the opposite effect to the one intended. You want to come across as professional, intelligent and authoritative, so make sure your content presents the right image. If your content is riddled with typos and grammatical errors, you will come across as sloppy and inefficient – which is definitely not going help you promote yourself.
The days of using content for the hard sell approach are over. If you want to see results from your content marketing, you need to approach it more like traditional media, and less like a sales pitch.