Put some meat in your content, with techniques journalists use.
It’s hard out there for content marketers. According to recent numbers reported by Relevance, 2.73 million blog posts are written and published every day. And it’s only getting worse. By 2020, the amount of information on the Internet will grow by 500 percent.
Scary, isn’t it? But let’s get real here. How much of what is out there is good content? How many of the blogs that get pushed to you make you think “oh look! I wonder what (insert name) has to say about (insert industry/product) this month?”
The fact is, no matter how much junk is circulating in the great ocean of the Internet, your blogs still can rise to the top if you offer people real insight, analysis, and actionable information that will help them with their jobs. And in the B2B markets, the opportunity is even greater, because you can leverage your expertise for a well-defined niche.
In my business I write for publication as a freelance journalist, as well as ghostwrite blogs, white papers, special reports and the like for my clients. Here are some of the little tricks I use to get good content together on a deadline.
#1 – Know your audience, know your keywords.
OK, I know this is content marketing 101, but it bears repeating. Create a content plan around your keywords. Do some research to find out what the commonly searched terms are for your industry and audience. One of the best ways to do this is through Google Adwords Keyword Planner. But there are many tools available. When you get that list together, plan stories that address those kinds of searches specifically. If you sell health insurance to companies, for instance, and one of their key terms is “lower healthcare costs,” then writing stories about how to economize on their company plans and encourage corporate wellness might be a good fit. This should form the floor of your content plan, but leave a few spaces so you can respond to breaking news in your industry, too.
#2 – Get to Know Google News Lab, and other data resources.
Notice how my lede for this blog post offered a statistic that makes you think? Every blog post should have some kind of facts that offer context for your opinion. A great place to start is Google News Lab, which created a suite of rich resources to help journalists and corporate communicators create richer material. Here are just a few of the delights:
- Google News Archive – Allows you to search only published news articles from 2003 and beyond. Like a Google Image Search, you can just click on the “news” button on the Google search page, type in your terms, and get highly targeted information all from reputable news sources. Looking for something from before 1995? Google has unbelievable resources with scanned newspaper articles going back to the early 1900s. Go to google.com/newspapers.
- Make a chart with Google Public Data – Google has a tool which takes publicly available data from places such as the census bureau, world governments, the UN and more, and makes it possible to create charts just on the information you want to see. Want to compare the state budget expenditure for education for Kentucky vs. Indiana? The environmental waste generated by the US versus Europe? You can set the year and parameters. Download the chart, and use freely on your websites. My only critique is that sometimes the data is a little too old. But considering the sheer power of this tool, I’m not complaining.
Above: A chart I created in public data to compare the spending on R&D among various world powers. It only took a minute to find the data and create the chart.
- Find a study with Google Scholar – With this tool you can search thousands of academic studies by your topic and date. Some of them are free, some are not. But it’s a great resource.
- Create a moving map with Google Earth Pro – You know when you are watching CNN and they fly over a map and stop on a destination? It’s not their graphics department making those. It’s all part of a freely available tool from Google. Type in your destination address. Pick a second address, and they will create a “flyover” video that takes you from place to place.
This is only the tip of the iceberg with Google News Lab. They also have lots of tools that can help you promote your post, too.
Of course, there’s always Slideshare, which has the world’s largest repository of slides from experts that you can search by subject and speaker. Essentially, it’s the biggest crib sheet in the world for marketers. And don’t forget You Tube, which often has great videos that will resonate with your audience.
#3 Give your authors blog starters
If you aren’t hiring your blog writing out, then chances are good you are trying to corral your busy co-workers to get you blog copy on deadline. You can help manage their writer’s block by giving them something to hang their intellectual hat on.
Tell them the keywords that need to be hit, and offer a potential topic for their post. Offer them a couple data points they can use for their opening paragraphs, sites with more information, and maybe even a bullet point or two, if they are amenable to that.
If they don’t like that much steering, you might send them a presentation from a recent conference or forward a recent industry news item that is getting everyone’s attention, then recommend they write a blog responding to that.
Content marketing has never been easy; and it’s not likely to get any easier in the future. But, with the right planning and the right tools, you can create content that is relevant. And that makes all the difference.
Susan Gosselin is the president of Gosselin PR, a freelance public relations, content creation and event planning company in Indianapolis, Ind. Contact her at email@example.com, or visit her profile.