You certainly have to devote some of your (probably too-scarce) marketing resources to content creation. You have to develop a strategy regarding the kind of content you’ll create and how you’ll distribute and promote it, but you don’t have to re-invent the wheel when it comes to actually generating the content.
A colleague recently shared something a college professor had told him years before on the subject of journalism. In a nutshell, she said, “You don’t break news. You add value to the story that’s already out there.”
This is a valuable perspective for content marketers. Think about it this way: your average, ethical journalist doesn’t go around lighting buildings on fire in order to have something to write about. Journalists don’t invent stories. They follow them, investigate them, and occasionally uncover information that wasn’t readily available or apparent.
Forget about inventing stories – ethically or otherwise – in order to have something to write about.
One of my most successful articles recently, in terms of engagement and social sharing, was a commentary on someone else’s original idea. I didn’t invent the original concept; I simply added perspective and, I hope, insight, in ways that were useful to my audience.
You can also forget about being an investigative reporter. Even the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and other major news outlets are struggling with the economics of that model. Instead focus on being the kind of editorialist who presents a complex topic to an audience in ways that highlight the aspects of the issue that are most relevant to the audience.
Be sure to keep that audience in mind. If you’ve ever read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal side by side (a great exercise for kids, by the way), you know that the same story can be interpreted in different ways. Be sure that you’re adding perspective that fits to your audience’s needs.
Finally, never lose site of the fact that your audience doesn’t know what you know. Don’t talk down to your audience, of course, but recognize that they’re reading because you have expertise they don’t. With that approach, you’ll realize that you have a lot more to write about than you might think at first glance.