This Guide will enable you to:
Any successful brand publishing operation requires executing to a high degree across a range of disciplines and capabilities, but none are more important than the simple ability to consistently create content that provides value to an audience.
A foolproof strategy, beautiful design, expensive technology, seasoned writers and seamless processes are worthless if they’re not underpinned by a steady stream of content that’s worthy of readers’ attention.
Saying, “create compelling content,” is simple, but it certainly isn’t easy to do. No two pieces of content are alike, no two readers are the same, and there’s no guaranteed formula or process that can be employed. To a large degree, it’s a muscle that must be built over years of repetition, both at an individual and organizational level.
Common pitfalls include relying on luck or volume to occasionally “strike gold,” shying away from originality in favor of glorified plagiarism, or no attempt to differentiate from competitors.
But there are key principles, habits and best practices gleaned from newsrooms, media companies and professional “storytellers” that can be used to set brand publishing operations up for success and drastically improve the quality and consistency of their output.
Brand publishing teams should ensure they:
- Understand how to create compelling content and value for their target audience: Having a well-defined target audience and a thorough understanding of what it finds valuable is an important prerequisite for identifying compelling angles and creating successful content. Attempting to create valuable content without keeping a target audience in mind is a recipe for failure.
- Generate ideas for strong content: Teams should employ smart tactics and good habits to generate a steady stream of content ideas. “Finding” great stories is a process that requires planning and diligence. Great writers and content creators employ a handful of key tactics on a regular basis to ensure they’re cultivating a pipeline of high-quality content ideas.
- Understand and learn how to select effective formats for each piece of content produced: Presenting and packaging information well is almost as important as identifying what information to present. Selecting a highly effective story format can help elevate mediocre content, and enable great content to shine. Conversely, a great topic or story idea can be hamstrung when forced into the wrong box. Easily repeatable content types and formats can also help with operational efficiency.
This guide explains the tactics and approaches outlined above, and provides a detailed breakdown of key story formats with templates that can be used to jumpstart these efforts.
What makes for compelling content
The most important factor in generating an effective piece of content is identifying what to write about and why. This sounds obvious, but it’s easier said than done.
The ability to quickly gauge what a particular audience will find interesting and/or useful is a hugely valuable skill, and one that can take years to acquire and hone. Experienced journalists and editors often refer to this ability as “instinct,” and it’s a key trait that editorial organizations look for when hiring editorial staffers.