Trending Now

Want more readers? Create content that’s newsworthy

Anytime I read about content marketing, the phrase “compelling content” inevitably appears. No one ever bothers to define it, and writers seem to accept that marketers know what it means. Because content is so wide-ranging – from how-to videos to blog posts to inspirational quotes – I think we all vaguely know what it is. But if I had to define it, I’d say it’s content that is newsworthy.

When I was in high school, I briefly worked as a stringer for the Asbury Park (NJ) Press. It was my first job in journalism, and I was thrilled to be handed my spiral notebook and an assignment. Stringers, of course, are at the bottom of the editorial hierarchy, and don’t get big assignments. Off I went to the zoning board meeting.

While in training, I shadowed the regular reporter, who let me write the first draft. I was still a few years away from memorizing the Associated Press stylebook, so my story read more like a high school English paper. But I’d picked the right angle and gotten the story lead right. I had a good sense for what had been newsworthy about the meeting.

For many journalists, the ability to know what is important and what will matter most to readers is an ingrained skill. I know it when I see it, instinctually. When I was in high school, I couldn’t articulate why. But today I can point to several reasons why one event is news and another is not (or shouldn’t be).

Although news judgment or news sense historically has been the domain of journalists, it’s now a required skill for content marketers. Though some journalists might disagree, determining what’s news ultimately comes down to one thing: whether or not people will find it interesting enough to read or watch. Getting people to read or watch brand content is, of course, the main goal of good content marketing.

Brands historically have been on the opposite side of this equation. Business executives in particular often confuse what’s important to them with what’s interesting to the readers, and traditional marketers followed their lead, relying instead on slogans and creativity.

Yet while most content marketers don’t have formal training in newsworthiness, many certainly have an instinct for it. Because we want people to read or watch the content we develop, we focus on the audience. In this sense, we’re not that different from traditional journalists, so having a nose for what’s news can improve our content development efforts.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

But what is newsworthiness? Some editors have very long lists of attributes, but these are the most common markers.
  • It’s current. Events that are happening now or about to happen are high on the scale of newsworthiness. As news gets old, it gets stale, and no one wants to read about it.
  • It’s local. The closer to home (or market or industry), the greater the impact and the more people will want to read about it.
  • It affects many. The more people that the news impacts, the greater the interest will be.
  • It’s about someone or something prominent. As we see from the tabloids, celebrities, politicians, and even business executives, all of them capture the imagination of the public.
  • It’s interesting or quirky. All newsworthy stories must have some element of this. If it’s boring, you’ll never get anyone to read it.
  • It’s bad news. If it bleeds, it leads, as the saying goes. Bad news can be used effectively and in a positive way by brands. For example, a brand with a diabetes drug can share new data on the rise of the disease along with 10 ways that a person can lower their risk.
  • It’s emotional. Stories that shock or tug at heartstrings capture attention.
  • It’s unique. A story that breaks against conventional wisdom or is surprising can capture the fascination of a wide range of people. When a pilot landed a USAirways plane safely on the Hudson River, everyone paid attention. It’s not often that a big jet glides to safety.
  • It’s useful. Stories that serve a public purpose are considered newsworthy. Content that explains heart disease or a lesson on assembling furniture will find readers.

Like journalists, content marketers can use these guidelines to evaluate story and content ideas. If the story has at least four of these markers, it’s worth the time and resources to create.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top Back to top