Though content marketing is incredibly valuable, it can be difficult to break through the sheer amount of noise on the internet. There are numerous articles and posts online that seem like pointless filler and when done incorrectly, content marketing can be more of the same.
With hundreds of companies all competing for valuable top-tier links and with website owners, brands, and journalists all catching onto the value of SEO, links are harder than ever to achieve. So, how do we stand out with our content marketing? The secret is in the idea…
What do journalists want?
One of the most challenging aspects of content, PR and outreach is figuring out what journalists want. The truth is, every journalist is different and really it is about being in the right place at the right time with your story. To increase likelihood of pickup, there are a few things that every idea should take into consideration.
- News values
News values are so detailed that we could dedicate an entire post to talking about them, but in essence, these are the core components that make a story newsworthy. Journalists love dramatic stories that will attain engagement and traffic, so the bigger and better your story, the more valuable it is to a journalist. Examples of news values include celebrity, drama and relevancy to the audience.
- A narrative
“Narrative” and “story” are the buzzwords when it comes to strong ideas and successful PR campaigns – and for good reason. Journalists are truth seekers and their job is to weave information into a narrative. Conducting a survey may help you attain coverage and links, but you need to consider why you are conducting a survey and why would a journalist care
Though data and influencers don’t guarantee pickup, having authority will always strengthen an idea and increase the likelihood of coverage and links. Think back to your school days – you wouldn’t write an essay without references, would you? Data, exclusive research and expert comments are like gold dust to journalists, offering them that much-needed authority to back their argument.
What makes a good idea?
No idea is a bad idea is a phrase that is simply untrue. In an era where every company is competing for those links, ideas are everything and can make or break a campaign. The good news is that ideas don’t necessarily have to be scrapped – they can be developed and improved to become stronger.
Think about what you like to read, from the headline to the bare bones and the concept. If it’s weird, unusual, unexpected or shocking, you would probably be interested, but if it’s bland, too promotional or doesn’t have a clear purpose, you’d switch off. Imagine you had a full email inbox – which subject lines would grab your attention?
How to get ideas
One of the hardest things to do in content marketing and public relations is to think up a genuinely good idea. Be it a blog content idea or a heavier content marketing-driven asset, the idea is what will drive results, but where do we start with our idea generation?
- Consider your target publications
Too often ideas get pushed ahead without any consideration as to which journalists and publications they’ll be targeting. It’s important to know who you’re aiming at so you can create a great piece of content that is useful to the journalist and publication. Choose your outlets, then look at the sort of content each outlet publishes for inspiration.
- Look at current news in your sector
This is one of the most obvious ways of coming up with ideas, yet it’s still vastly overlooked as an idea generation tactic. Similar to the point above, what exactly is it that is making the news in your sector? It could be trade reports, case studies, infographics or video content. Think about the topics, the format of the content and what seems to be getting coverage in more than one publication.
- Look at competitors and what worked well for them
There’s nothing wrong with keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing – in fact, we heavily encourage it. Being aware of your competitors’ successes can be useful for gaining further insight into what does and doesn’t work. Let’s say 12 of your competitors sent an infographic and it didn’t work – you can learn that infographics aren’t appropriate for that audience so something else might work better.
- Idea generation tools
If you’re still well and truly stumped then there’s no need to worry – it happens to the best of us! Take a look at our post on the ten best content idea generation tools; they could just help you get that light bulb moment.
Developing an idea into a great idea
So, you have a basic concept in mind – what’s next? It’s time to develop the idea from a good idea to a great idea. For this, there’s no clear cut formula, but ask yourself: is your idea original or better than what is out there? How can it become more authoritative? How it will add value to journalists and readers? Does it make sense for your brand?
These are just a few questions that will help you develop simple ideas into stronger, newsworthy ideas instead of word fodder.