Ever say something in a meeting that the boss never let you forget? I did that about a year ago, but I think he’s over it now because since then I’ve learned something that now guides the way our Dallas marketing firm thinks about content. The lesson is this: When creating content for marketing purposes, the first consideration isn’t the story you have but the result you want.

I came to Internet marketing firms after a long career in newspapers. And newspaper reporters and editors, most of them anyway, work hard to present the incremental developments in an ongoing story without regard to the ultimate result. No truly ethical journalist says, “We’re going to get that place shut down,” or “We’re going to get that woman fired.” Stories I’ve edited have had those very results, but that wasn’t their objective.

In Marketing, the Story is a Vehicle for Action

I brought my journalistic approach to Idea Grove, and into an early client meeting in which I tried to leverage my newspaper experience in a self-deprecating way by saying, “I don’t know much about public relations, but I’ve consumed a lot of it.” In other words, I know a good story when I see it and I can help you present a series of good stories that together will portray your company in the most positive way possible. The boss winced, and has periodically reminded me of my error — and rightly so.

What I was forgetting – because at the newspaper this was someone else’s problem – was to answer three key questions: Who is the story’s best audience? How do we reach them? And, most importantly: What is the audience supposed to do with the information we are providing?

These days, a list of media placements or even a busy Twitter feed isn’t what most companies are looking for when they look for technology public relations. That’s because inbound marketing agencies have shifted the focus – quite correctly – to lead generation and its measurable impact on the bottom line. Now content needs to do more than make someone feel good about you, it needs to move them to do business with you because they feel good about you.

New Priorities for Content: What, Who, How

Idea Grove is unique among Dallas marketing firms in that we offer the precision and focus of search, social media, web design and inbound marketing firms along with public relations expertise and high-quality content. But in creating that content our first consideration is its purpose – What do we want readers to do based on this information, who will be most likely to do that, and how do we best get that information to them? Once those questions are answered, we craft content that meets those objectives and tells a good story.

So there’s nothing at all wrong with wanting to tell a great story; it’s just not the best starting point for creating effective content. Instead, start with the end in mind.