At Scribewise, we believe the best content marketing is journalistic – meaning that it is audience-focused, credible, honest and of high quality. Our definition is narrower than the definition others will use, but we think it’s important.

Content Marketers Need To Be More Like Reporters

Of course, being journalistic is not something most marketing organizations are accustomed to doing, although things are obviously shifting. While many companies are embracing the notion of content marketing, they aren’t quite doing the journalistic thing. The upside is becoming a go-to information source for your industry – which is a very valuable position to hold; people in your industry want good information. They want information that will help them do their job. They want these stories told with enthusiasm and verve. So, yes, there are stories out there to be told. But how do you know what the audience will like?

To deliver what people want and therefore raise your organization’s profile, you need to do what reporters do:

Focus on the community. While it’s true that newspapers have written incessantly about the state of the newspaper business, most media focus on the community they cover. Whether it’s local government, high school sports, or a specific industry vertical, they aim to be the go-to source of information on a given topic.  The best reporters have the inside information on the community they cover – they learn about occurrences early in order to “break news,” and they are able to offer context to the news – analyzing what it means. In order to position your organization as the go-to information source, you need to dig in to the community to understand what’s happening. This will enable you to create content no one else delivers, and do it with both frequency and quality.

Reflect back on what people are talking about.  A great reporter has her fingers on the pulse of the community she covers. What are people talking about? Understanding what’s on the minds of insiders and being among the first to tell tat story makes your content more valuable to the audience. For content marketers, this means always having your radar up, to engage in social listening on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as in various discussion groups. It also means paying attention at events -what’s the scuttlebutt at the big industry trade show?

Talk to people. Crazy, I know. The best way to find out what people are talking about is to, ya know, talk to them. Ask your customer-facing team members. Better yet, ask your customers. Find out what questions are being asked, what concerns are being expressed.

Be a reporter. Do research. Read. Online, offline. Newspapers, magazines, blogs and books. This is the baseline of covering an industry vertical; the content you create needs to have an awareness of the content others are creating. Importantly, reach out to people and “interview” them about what they’re seeing and what they’re doing. This will help to inform your thinking and your content production.

Ask questions! This is a business of curiosity. If it’s a question you have, it’s probably a question others have. Whether you ask the questions of experts you encounter, or people within your organization, or simply ask it of a search engine, this is the way you learn things. And that enables you to tell great stories.

I like to think of the journalist’s job as taking a set of disparate facts and weaving them together into a coherent story that resonates with the audience. This is what the best content marketers do. They uncover a potential story, report on it so they gain full understanding, context and perspective, and then transmit that story to the audience in a meaningful way.

In short, they act like reporters.