The line between content marketing and traditional journalism is becoming increasingly blurred, with marketers aiming to make their content as rich and informative as possible. In fact, content marketers can look to the world of journalism as they explore ways to reach their target audiences.
The following are six common tactics journalists use that you might find helpful as you develop blog content, web copy, articles, social media content and more:
1) Seek reputable sources: Content marketing prioritizes posting content quickly and often, which can sometimes lead to sloppy research. Although a brand may be a trusted authority on a subject, readers like to see facts from other respected sources—whether from interviews with experts or insights from published reports. Content marketing helps build trust between customers and a brand, and so if the content presents inaccurate information, it could irreparably damage that trust.
2) Ask valuable questions: Journalists are investigators, seeking the most accurate information about their story, beginning with the five Ws and one H: who, what where, when, why and how. They are trained to continually pursue a line of reasoning or questioning, and to ask follow-up questions. Erring on the side of too much information rather than too little leads to a stronger article, one that anticipates and answers questions readers may have.
3) Write efficiently: The inverted pyramid is a hallmark of journalism because it prioritizes giving the reader the most important information first. The five Ws and one H should be presented early on in any informative article. If the author buries the lead, the reader may get bored and move on to something more interesting. Content marketers need to know how to keep readers on the page through engaging copywriting.
4) Analyze larger trends: Over time, journalists can become experts in certain subjects, whether its city hall politics or digital marketing. This focus allows them to see what a particular news item means in the grand scheme of things, and they can place the event in context for the casual reader less familiar with the topic. Because of their training, they are also able to effectively write about an assortment of subjects, applying their knowledge of other topics (and an inquisitive nature) to the stories they develop.
5) Balance brand promotion and current events: Journalists tend to have a stash of “evergreen” content prepared to publish in case another story is rejected or space opens up in their section. Content marketers need to similarly strategize to balance current events with more general topics. Current events are a helpful way to cover your industry while still promoting your brand, but articles that specifically address your business are also helpful to the reader. When they want to find out more about you, these articles will still be relevant months later.
6) Write interesting and accurate headlines: Newspaper headlines need to grab the reader’s attention quickly, much like today’s marketing content. To stand out in the sea of content, marketers have turned to “click bait” headlines that are vague—and usually poorly written. A good headline should be concise and give the reader a good summary of what the article is about.
If you’re having trouble with the copywriting aspect of your content marketing strategy, consider working with a current or former journalists. Some copywriting services today staff professionals with experience in numerous fields, including former reporters, editors and bloggers. These creative individuals can be just what your brand needs to set itself apart through effective content marketing.
Michelle B. is a copywriter with ProPRcopy, a content development firm that features a number of former journalists.