Adam Fisher
15th January 2019 - 6 mins read
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ut it is not just those in content marketing who face the pressure of having to write quality content on demand.

Journalists have to create attention grabbing-content every day.

So what skills can we steal from them to make our content better?

 

Keep it simple

One of the lessons I learned as a young journalist which really stuck with me was the need to keep my writing simple.

Good newspaper articles are concise, contain simple language and use basic sentence structures.

The simpler an article is to read the more people will be able to understand what it is saying. The average reading age of the UK population is generally considered to be around nine years.

And this is pertinent to content marketing.

All too often organisations inadvertently opt for content which creates barriers to comprehension and detracts from the message.

Let’s take something I saw from Lloyds Banks just before I settled down to write this blog. It was a quote in a document from chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio.

It said: “Our differentiated, customer focussed business model continues to deliver with our multi brand, multi-channel approach, cost leadership, low risk positioning, investment capacity and execution capabilities positioning us well for sustainable success in a digital world.”

There is so much about that sentence I don’t like. But the key issue is that no matter how often I read it, it does not make sense. And that is a real problem. If people don’t understand the content you produce they won’t stick with it.

So lose the big words, keep the sentences tight.

 

Write how you talk

This follows on quite nicely from the importance of keeping writing simple, because one of the best ways to do that is to focus on using the same language you use when you speak.

If I’m struggling to write something I think about how I would say it.

The other benefit of this approach is that it creates a chatty, informal style and natural flow – something journalists strive for in their stories.

To help achieve this, grammar rules sometimes go out of the window. For example, sentences can often start with ‘and’.

 

Research

In many cases, for journalists, the writing is actually the shortest part of the process of putting a story together.

Reporters spend lots of time gathering, looking at and assessing the validity of information in search of a story. This could be sourcing facts and figures, studying data and interviewing experts.

The more research you put into your content the more it will tell your readers things they don’t already know.

And that is a crucial way of ensuring it will stand out from all the other content which is available. 

 

Interview

Here’s a question. How many blogs do you see which include comments from a real person? How many newspaper stories do you see that don’t feature people?

One of the key differences between content and newspaper stories is that the stories always feature people.

And people are predominantly brought into stories through interviews.

Whether it is people in your own organisation or key influencers in the sector, getting the views, opinions and personalities of other people into your content can offer your readers something strong and different, as well as breathe life and add fresh impetus into existing content ideas.

A journalist’s contacts book is something they rely on heavily. Look through your contacts and consider who you could interview for your content.

You can find out more about using interviews in your content in this earlier blog.

 

Human

The way we consume stories and content has changed. Newspaper sales are in decline and people increasingly rely on social media and the internet to find out what is going on in the world.

But despite this evolution there is a constant – people still want stories about other people.

Human interest stories remain as powerful as ever, which is why ‘how does this affect people?’ is still the phrase you will hear most often in a newsroom.

And it is a key in producing content which draws in readers and keeps them engaged.

 

Inverted pyramid

The inverted pyramid is a writing model used by journalists to show how stories should be structured so that they get the most attention.

Essentially it shows that the most newsworthy part should be at the beginning. So; who, what, where, when, why and how are the questions journalists will look to answer in their opening paragraphs.

The next stage of the inverted pyramid structure is the important details and supporting information, including quotes and statistics. And the pyramid base is the general and background information.

The beauty of this structure is its simplicity which ensures stories are easy to follow for readers. If people can’t follow what you are writing then they quickly lose interest.

The only change to this structure for a content marketing point of view is that the last part of the pyramid should include some form of a call to action.

 

Focus on what’s new

If you consider what makes something newsworthy, then timeliness or topicality would be one of the crucial components.

We want to know the latest news and the latest trends. We are not interested in a rehash of something we already know.

So, look to bring your readers something new. Perhaps some new insight or a new way of looking at things. Or look to use topics that people are currently talking about to show how your product or service could have made a difference.

 

Thesaurus

A thesaurus can be a valuable tool for a journalist, but it’s one that comes with a note of caution.

A good reporter will use it to avoid annoying repetition in their writing, by finding alternative words.

But it is crucial it is not used to find more complicated words to make your writing appear more intelligent.

As a content marketer you are writing to inform and generate interest. But that will not happen if the audience does not understand the words you use.

 

Edit

Always ask yourself whether you could say the same thing in your writing without using as many words.

Journalists look to make their copy as tight as possible and similarly, you should look to edit your own content without fear.

This doesn’t mean you should always produce short-form content. It is about ensuring the words you use are the most effective. For example, the word ‘very’ often isn’t needed. ‘Many’ is tighter than ‘a lot of’.

I don’t think I have ever seen a journalist read their writing aloud in the newsroom, but if you can find somewhere quiet this is a good tip. If you find yourself falling over your words and struggling for breath then you need to simplify and rework your sentences. 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is a podcast or email marketing.

Marketing

5 types of video content to help your business make an impact

Emily Stonham 12th October 2018 — 6 mins read
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ideo content is the perfect way to achieve this. Using videos to interact with your customer shows them the person behind the product, and demonstrates how it could benefit them in real life. After all, the modern customer is busy. And with more content available online than ever, it’s important that your content stands out from the crowd and captures their interest.

Of course, different content will work for different people.  You need to narrow down your audience and figure out exactly what they’re going to be interested in watching. This means profiling your existing customers and talking to people who chose to buy from you, as well as those that chose not to buy from you. Content formats like surveys or social media polls can be really useful for this sort of research.

There are so many types of video content to consider. Here are 5 of our personal favourites for you to consider adding to your content strategy.

Behind the scenes

A video showing the inner workings of your business is a fantastic way to personalise your marketing and build a deeper level of trust with your consumer. If you’re promoting a product, show sneak peeks of how it’s made or a snippet of a brainstorming meeting. If your business offers a service, try filming a set-up before an event or consultation.

Obviously, you don’t have to show the whole thing, but giving your customers a glimpse behind the scenes can help them relate to your business on a more personal level and feel more interested in what you’re offering.

Some of the best behind the scenes video content comes from online brands. Fashion brands are particularly good at using this style on social media to keep their fans excited about upcoming products and collections.

A great example is the printing company Awesome Merchandise, who create personalised merchandise for businesses. They show behind the scenes shots of their machines embroidering and printing, and take a lot of photos off their staff working or on days out. These pieces of content help the customers feel like they’re in the factory or office with the team, and thus feel more connected.

Interviews

On the other end of the spectrum, an interview could be a great piece of content to film. This could be an interview with a team member, to find out more about the business and their day-to-day life. It could be an interview with a key influencer in your industry, perhaps talking about predictions for future trends or technological developments. You could interview customers, your boss or even strangers at a convention or networking event. There are a lot of possibilities with this idea - just figure out what you’d like to communicate, and work backwards from there.

Our sister company, Media First, often uses this video format to create customer testimonial videos such as this one. The benefit of using interviews in your content marketing is that it offers an engaging narrative for consumers, and can showcase different points of view.

Instructional videos

If you’re offering a product, a video detailing how to use it can be really beneficial for customers. Numbered videos can be really helpful e.g. ‘5 ways to use make the most of…’ or ’10 ways XX product can help your team’.

A key benefit of instructional videos is that it can also help to reduce the strain on customer services, sales and support teams. This style of video will often be created to answer a frequently asked question, and thus make the customer experience more pleasant overall.

A great example of this style of content would be makeup gurus, specifically on YouTube. Jeffree Star, a famous fashion influencer and businessman, creates makeup tutorials using his own products and techniques. The overall effect of this is that the customers gain more information about the product and engage more deeply with the brand itself.

Product launch

A great piece of content to create is a video promoting new products or events that your business is launching. A video could include sneak peeks/glimpses of the product, to generate hype around your brand. This could even tie in with other pieces of content, like competitions or give-aways to get more customers excited.

Alternatively, you could create an in-depth piece of content that highlights the key benefits of your new product, and gives the customer a reason to come back to your business.

This is often done really well by game development companies. When new video games are being released, companies often rely on social media hype to get the word out. They’ll post sneak peeks and snippets of game play, all leading up to an elaborate reveal of the game. A great example of this would be the most recent installation of the Super Smash Bros game from Nintendo.

Vlog

This one may be a less popular idea, depending on the industry you work in, but vlogging can be a great way to humanise your business and connect with your customers on a more personal level. A vlog is essentially a video blog. They’re incredibly personal, and are hugely popular on social media.

An example of the crazy hype that these pieces of content can create is the latest trend on YouTube called ‘mukbangs’. A mukbang is an eating show, with the creator simply having a meal and chatting to the audience. This might sound ridiculous if you’ve never seen these - who would sit and just watch someone eat for fun?

Surprisingly, tens of millions of people tune in to watch these on YouTube and Twitch. The appeal is the personal aspect, where the audience feels like they’re having a meal with a friend. Here's an example from a popular creator named Josh Peck.

Mukbangs can be used for marketing new products from fast food companies, like Taco Bell or McDonalds. They may not seem like the most obvious choice for a piece of content, but the cult following that they have online is immense.

Additionally, this type of content can be tailored well to fit most industries - for example ‘a day in the life of a digital marketing apprentice’ or ‘spending the day at a media training course’. They’re personal, fun and tie in well with the previously mentioned idea about a behind-the-scenes video.

Overall

Overall, it’s worth your time considering adding video into your content marketing strategy. It’s modern, engaging and also quite fun to produce. Customers love video content, and it can do incredibly well on social media.

And they don’t need to be long, either. When Thirty Seven launched a printed magazine earlier this year, we created a 15 second looped video to promote it that could be used on Twitter and LinkedIn- take a look at it here.

If you try out any of these ideas for a social media post, feel free to tag us - we’d love to see it.

Thirty Seven offers a huge range of content creation services, and we’d be happy to have a chat about any marketing projects that we could help your business with.

Adam Fisher
10th December 2018 - 4 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.