Top tips for creating content by Waggener Edstrom’s Nic Shaw
8th July 2013
As a journalist, who recently entered the PR world, it has been interesting to hear the discussion about brands becoming publishers or broadcasters. It’s understandable companies are concerned by the consolidation of some publications, such as the Daily and Sunday Telegraph joining forces, Time Magazine going digital and the BBC announcing further cutbacks. It makes sense to develop content to fill the apparent void, but developing content that is authentic, inspiring and relevant to an audience is not that simple. Dare I say you need a journalist’s “eye” for the editorial angle to consistently deliver quality content whether in print, digital or broadcast format?
It would be wrong of me to suggest that companies and their PR teams are not producing compelling content that engages their audience, because I have seen great examples, both at Waggener Edstrom and elsewhere. However, the headlong rush into content marketing, because the technology and channels are available, is in danger of becoming content for content’s sake. Our recent survey of UK marketers suggested that most understand the value of content marketing and many had a strategy in place, yet some basic principles haven’t been followed – such as understanding the effectiveness of content to drive business and reputational goals.
There is a balance that can be achieved between the worlds of PR and journalism, where we all can live in harmony. Yes, that’s right, a world where we all get along! There is definitely an opportunity for PROs to step in to fill the gaps, but I would argue there is an important role that the journalist’s training, editorial approach and rigour can play in ensuring content is effective in engaging audiences.
Sure I’ve heard the argument that journalists are too interested in the story to understand how to write for PR, but I don’t buy such stereotyping. Yes, there’s a cultural shift that we hacks need to go through, but equally flacks who think they can automatically create content to entice audiences are misguided. As Warren Buffett says, “… skimpy news coverage will almost certainly lead to skimpy readership.”
That is the mantra any publication, or content, should live and die by.
I would like to close with three final thoughts for anyone considering a content-marketing strategy:
- Digital content should be multipurpose – the technology and platforms exist to write once and apply across multiple channels. Yes, each platform has different style, editorial approach, but there are efficiencies that can be achieved
- The traditional corporate video is dead – video is taking off, but the days of the headshot of the corporate executive talking for five minutes is gone. Anyone making a video must respect the corporate style and culture, but there are some basic principles to follow. PROs need to inspire their clients to adopt a faster paced, shorter video format, which still captures the essence of their messages.
- Everyone who watches your content is a consumer – makers of content, whether appealing to a B2C or B2B audience, must apply the same rigour as a television broadcaster or print journalist. It can be done cost efficiently if you use the right experts. Your audiences have high standards – fail to meet their expectations in the first paragraph or 30 seconds of a video clip and you have lost them.
Nic Shaw is editor-in-chief at PR agency Waggener Edstrom