Good content must successfully capture an audience’s attention, hold their interest, and be immediately useful. Writers who want to improve the content they create can learn how to do this and tell a great story by emulating an often-overlooked group: journalists.
Content marketers and writers struggle with producing content that is consistently high-quality, but that’s something professional writers do on a daily basis. Thinking – and writing – like a journalist is a good long-term strategy for content marketing. Here’s why.
Journalists Know How to Tell a Story
From personal interest stories to hard news, journalists know how to hook readers and keep them engaged by telling a compelling story. They’ve been formally trained to write great opening sentences followed by an explanatory body and nicely-wrapped up conclusion. Journalists also know that every story should answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. How does your own content writing measure up: do you make every sentence count? Is what you’ve written interesting enough to make a user continue reading to the end?
Journalists are Inquisitive and Natural Researchers
Journalists question everything, want to know every angle, and seek out opinions from every side. If they don’t know about a topic or industry, they spend time learning everything they can before writing about it. That approach can be extremely helpful in writing great content. Learn how to ask the right questions – the audience probably has the same ones!
Journalists know, too, that Google doesn’t hold all the answers they’re looking for. In-depth research and articles about, or interviews with, industry experts are often buried deep within search engine result pages. If you’re a writer who solely depends on Google research, you’re pulling your material from the same sources thousands of others use.
Want to make your content writing stand out? Explore further afield and dig deeper. Find and bookmark industry journals, public library sites, magazines, newspapers, and scholarly article websites. Don’t hesitate to reach out to experts via social media, email, or on sites like Quora and LinkedIn.
Journalists are Trained to Be Objective
Yes, content is meant to drive sales, but it must also be non-salesy. Journalists know how to write from a neutral standpoint that doesn’t hard sell. They understand what it means to inform first and sell later. Is your content subtly or not-so-subtly making a sales pitch? That can affect whether readers trust that you to have their best interests at heart. Read some of your favorite journalists and learn from them how to present information without telling readers what to think.
Journalists Respect Deadlines
Editorial calendars are created for many reasons, and one of the most important is setting deadlines for content to be turned in by. Talk to any journalist and you’ll hear stories of missed sleep, unattended family events, and cancelled dates, but you won’t hear them say they missed a deadline. While you don’t have to sacrifice quite as much, developing the habit of never missing a deadline will make you a better writer, as well as one that people want to work with.
Credibility is Key
It’s as true in journalism as it is in content creation. Great content that compels people to click, read, and share isn’t just about stringing SEO words together. It’s about offering information that’s true, useful, and of value.
Capturing a target audience’s attention requires telling an engaging story and offering information that focuses on their needs and desires, not a brand’s revenue goals. When creating content, think more like a journalist than a salesperson. You’ll not only enhance the reader experience, you’ll help readers conclude the brand you’re writing about is the solution they need.