Conditioned to communicating through sound bites, key messages and breaking news, many brands don’t necessarily think about the wealth of information they have at their fingertips. By virtue of creating, producing and marketing their products and services, they understand broad societal, economic, technological and cultural trends.
Many brands have an army of subject matter experts ready to wax eloquent on the topics they deal with every day. What’s critical, however, is the way in which the topics are discussed, how the story is both conceived and told.
For those that have a lot to say but don't necessarily know exactly how to say it, here are some tips for parsing your content, courtesy of Mike Winkleman, co-founder and president of Leverage Media LLC and contributor to PR News' Digital PR & Social Media Guidebook Vol. 6:
- One size does not fit all. With so many channels available for content distribution, there’s a tendency to create a piece of content and send it across all channels. Resist that. Audiences are different, with different reading habits and informational needs. Channels are different, not only in terms of length requirements but in terms of approach and presentation. Make sure you fit in. As Andrew Essex, vice chairman of the ad agency Droga5, told the New York Times, native ads “should not come across as anything that doesn’t belong. That is what we mean by native: it belongs.”
- Show. Don’t tell. Thought leadership is key and expertise is paramount. The tendency of most marketers when they approach writing content is to showcase the brand, describe its attributes, and go for the sale. While that may work with such instruments as traditional advertising, brochures and product promotion, content marketing needs to be more subtle. It needs to be rooted in the reader’s informational needs. If the reader dives into the content because it’s covering a topic of interest and comes away from the content believing that the brand has demonstrated its expertise, then you’ve come that much closer to not only making a sale but developing customer loyalty.
- Style is important, but not at the expense of substance. For content to succeed, it must be informational. While you don’t want to give away the store, you do want to provide the insights, expertise and knowledge that will allow a reader to come away from the article believing that you’ve enriched them, allowing them to enrich you in return.
Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene