DigitalNews Today: Write Like the Journalist, Think Like the PR Professional and Deploy Like the Digital Aficionado: The 10 Steps to Effective Content Marketing

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Write Like the Journalist, Think Like the PR Professional and Deploy Like the Digital Aficionado: The 10 Steps to Effective Content Marketing

Thursday, July 30, 2015

You can no longer build an effective digital presence if you do not acknowledge that content is king! Custom content and a content management strategy is the now and future of effective brand communication and marketing.
Content marketing is the discipline of creating quality branded editorial content across all media channel and platforms to deliver engaging relationships, consumer value and measurable success for brands with the objective of driving profitable customer action – drive awareness and engagement.

As at 2014, over 27Million pieces of content are generated and shared daily while 5 Exabyte of online content is created each day and as content marketing gains traction, many content experts are of the view that it is now mainstream.

It’s no surprise that more and more digital marketing agencies are hiring individuals with a background in journalism and PR rather than marketing. In an age where content is king, the fact remains that for the content to do anything worthwhile, it has to be good. And while a traditional marketer may have the skill set for writing tag lines or the copy for radio ads, most journalists and PR Professionals are better prepared with the skills to make content marketing truly stand out.

When it comes to creating quality content marketing, many advertisers seem to fall into the trap that they are simply producing ads on a digital platform (as many disastrous “promoted content” pieces on Buzzfeed so easily demonstrate). Yet this mentality couldn’t be farther from the truth.

In recent years, many advertising agencies have adopted what is more of a “newsroom” mentality to produce content marketing that will meet this criteria. Writers are not copywriters, but brand journalists. The agency’s goal is not to produce glossy magazine ads or shoot high-concept TV spots, but rather to write journalistic articles and provide other forms of digital content (such as videos and infographics) that appeal to a certain segment of a particular brand’s target audience and help build SEO.

The background provided in journalism lends itself easily to some of the chief goals of content marketing—namely, to provide valuable, interesting information to a consumer. The most successful news publications know that there is more to journalism than reporting on breaking news—stories must be told in a way that will draw in readers and keep them coming back for more.

Brands such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull have all embraced this mentality by creating videos, providing unique articles and even conducting interviews that are then shared through brand-owned and third-party publishing platforms.

So how do traditional marketers fit into this world of journalistic content marketing? They don’t—at least, not very easily. So the question is, what can traditional marketers do to make sure they’re not left behind as content marketing continues to rise in importance? It’s quite simple, really: Write like the journalist, think Like the PR professional and deploy like the digital aficionado

Here are ten step to getting started down the path to crafting content marketing that works.

1. Define your objectives: Firstly, establish what form of media your content should take, or whether a combination of formats would be better, by conducting an audit of your existing content strategy. Once you have a clear picture of your existing strategy, consider how a magazine, website, app, video or other form of branded content would fit in.

2. Define Write for an Audience: Too often, content marketers merely attempt to regurgitate marketing materials into article format. The trick here is to realize that with content marketing, you are no longer necessarily writing as the voice of the brand—more often than not, you’re writing as if you were a third-party journalist, which makes a direct sell a big no-no. Learn what type of news and information appeals to an audience, and then provide your own unique insight. Which brings us to point number two…

Now you need to build up a picture of your target customer, setting out exactly what you want to achieve with your cross-media content. The tighter your objectives, the sharper the focus and the better the results. Also consider what other communications your customers receive from you and ensure that all your marketing — new and existing — joins up, with as little overlap as possible.

3. Consider targeting opportunities: Targeting different types of customer through segmented content can make the process much more efficient and cost-effective, so consider producing a number of different versions of your publication and digital content. But if you want to segment, is your database up to the task? If you don't have the appropriate data, consider starting with a single title and build in a data-capture mechanism so you can segment in the future.

4. Make a strong financial case: Having regular, high-quality content can be a significant investment for your marketing department, so establish benchmarks for success based on your objectives. Your investment should be based on measurable results. In short: how will the project add to the bottom line? You then need to find the budget, which will depend on the role you wish your content to fulfil. Next, get internal buy-in from all relevant departments, especially if you are expecting them to contribute to the budget.

5. Establish your distribution strategy: How will your content reach your customers? What combination of digital media channels would best fit your target audience? From video to infographics and other digital content formats and channels to choose from.

6. Appoint a content marketing consultant (PR Pro, the digital Journalist or digital consultant): Very few client companies have the necessary resources or expertise to create effective content in-house, so you will almost certainly need to appoint a consultant.

7. Measure your success: A piece of branded content will stand or fall on the strength of its results. One of the simplest ways to gauge customer opinion is through a reader survey, either included within a publication or accessed online. This will help you gather information about how well your content is answering the needs of your customer. For more tangible results, you should feature exclusive sales codes or unique order hotlines to get an idea of how well the publication, digital content or website is performing.

8. Look for the Unique Insight: Chances are, there are already several hundred (if not thousand) articles covering the exact same topic you are trying to use as content marketing fodder. And while simply getting a link online does constitute content marketing, getting that article read and shared by an audience does a lot more good for a brand. Even with so many articles that have already been written on a particular subject, chances are there is an angle that hasn’t been covered yet. Find that unique perspective and use it.
9. Be Accurate: Creating a solid piece of content marketing often requires its fair share of research. But the sad truth is that there is so much content on the web—especially in the world of content marketing—that is woefully inaccurate. Simply scanning Wikipedia would not cut it for the Washington Post, and it shouldn’t be considered sufficient for your content marketing purposes, either. Make sure any information you use in your pieces is accurate. Established industry leaders are going to provide much more authority to your content marketing than a quote from an unknown blog.

10. Read: No one can become a great writer without reading. And with a seemingly unending source of material available both on- and offline, there is ample opportunity to read—and learn—from other writers. Learning from the best allows you to not only strengthen your own writing style, it will help your content reach and appeal to that oh-so-precious audience that is the ultimate goal of all content marketing.

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