Apr 23rd 2014

The Great Content Game


Content, content everywhere. How to make yours stand out

Described recently as ‘the word of the year’ at Advertising Week Europe http://advertisingweek.eu/replay/#date=2014-03-31~video-id=undefined~venue=4


Whether it’s branded content, content marketing or brand journalism we just can’t stop talking about content.

There is certainly more of it out there than ever before. We can all publish ourselves. This blog is one example, then there are tweets, Facebook updates, videos on Vine, YouTube clips and it goes on and on and on.

But how do we turn our content into great content?

How do we get the people that we’re targeting to listen to it, watch it, read it and share it?

How do we cash in on the coverage that it generates?

In other words


1. Have a story to tell – it sounds obvious but can you honestly say that you’ve never tried to squeeze out a story that isn’t really there? Before you start on the content creation process put it to a simple test. Ask yourself “would I read this if it wasn’t about my own brand?” Be honest and if your answer is no then bin it, start again and find a story that really is interesting. It’ll save an awful lot of time, effort and disappointment. And believe me after 20 years as a journalist there are good stories everywhere. You just have to know what you are looking for.

2. Grab the attention – Life is too short for any of us to spend time watching or reading anything that doesn’t grab our attention. We have so much to choose from that it only takes a matter of seconds for us to decide whether something is worth our time or it isn’t. So if you have a good story to tell, invest as much time in getting the opening line right as you spend on the whole of the rest of the piece. Tell the crux of your story in that top paragraph of your text or the opening 10 seconds of your audio or video. Having sat in newsrooms and seen my inbox fill up with press release after press release this is even more important when you are contacting journalists and trying to persuade them to cover your story.

3. Attract the eye – bill board adverts have been doing it for years, selecting a strong image that catches the eye of those passing by. We need to translate that into the digital world that our customers live in. Content that includes a video clip, a strong image or a creative infographic will get noticed. There’s no getting away from it we’re all drawn to images, so spend as much time on selecting the best photograph, clip or graphic as you do in writing your copy. Back to those newsrooms and I remember how most press releases looked exactly the same. When you’re flicking through or scrolling down, things that look different stand out. A journalist will look twice at a good photo and he/she will click on a video clip. It’ll help you to avoid the news desk spike!

4. Become a ‘news-jacker’ - news is current, news is topical, news is what people are talking about. News-jacking is shaping content around news stories, and although it may sound underhand it’s what journalists have done for years. A story breaks and reporters up and down the country look for follow-ups and new angles. Good content, well placed by a news-jacking organisation can be just what a journalist is looking for. It’s not only the journalists who appreciate this kind of content. Spot what’s trending on Twitter, join the conversation and you’ll find yourself being shared across social media too.

5. React proactively - whether it’s a response to the Chancellor’s latest Budget statement or reaction to a major event, rapid response has long been part of a PR team’s toolkit. Competition is fierce and lady luck often plays a big part in determining whether it’s your brand that gets a mention or your rival’s. So cheat! Instead of waiting for something to happen and then reacting to it, anticipate the news agenda by thinking and operating like a newsroom. We know the date, for example, of the Chancellor’s next Budget, so prepare your content early and send it out ahead of the speech to give yourself a head start. This works for more unpredictable events and stories too. Become a news junkie. Decide what you have to say on the hot topics in your sector and be ready to press GO when it’s next in the news.

Branded content, content marketing and brand journalism are all strategies that can help you to get your messages across. Great content can turn you into a thought leader and a news maker. It will help you to get ahead of the competition and to win the Great Content Game.

To see more on how we can help you with your content planning and media relations click here: http://www.core-management.co.uk/media-training-pr-services/content_planning/

Keith Beech is a former journalist and senior editor with the BBC. Now director of Core Management – Crisis, Organisation and Reputation, which is part of the Nexus Communications Group