If you needed heart surgery, would you let a plumber operate? Me neither! Obviously, you’d want an experienced surgeon to do the job. You’d be wise to follow the same line of thinking when it comes to your content program. Let’s look at why it’s important to work with professional writers.
Your content is an important brand element
Companies spend millions – even billions – of dollars creating and protecting a strong brand. They set strict branding standards, and are vigilant about making sure folks abide by them. Yet these very same organizations don’t think twice about allowing just about anyone to write for them.
This is a problem.
However, businesses need to realize that the content they publish represents their brand, and that it has the potential to affect them — their image, authority, credibility, and sales — in a positive or negative fashion.
Given that, companies should be just as concerned about the content they develop as they are with other important branding elements. Because of its importance, they should establish some standards and work with professional writers to produce the best content possible.
Content that misses the mark
Now you might be thinking, sure, professional writers and journalists are great for newspapers and magazines, but do I really need them for my content program?
The answer is yes! In fact, I believe they are the secret to creating awesome content!
I speak from experience that straddles the worlds of content marketing and journalism. Prior to becoming a search marketing manager, I was trained as a journalist, and wrote for Hearst Media. But today in my digital marketing work, I regularly see content that could have been so much more impactful if a professional writer had been involved. How so?
There are many reasons. I often see companies that cover the same topics again and again. Or businesses that produce material that speaks to an isolated group, such as practitioners, rather than to a wider community that includes their customers and prospects. Or content that fails to cover the basics, is hard to follow, or lacks value. In each case, poor quality material – content that misses the mark — leads to a less than positive brand image.
When I encounter such content, I can’t help but wonder why the company even bothered, and if they realize how it reflects on their brand.
Understanding the value of professional writers in content marketing today
But professional writers can do a lot for your content efforts. Because of their training, they are able to cover a variety of interesting and relevant topics, support their stories with rich sources, and illustrate their subject in a way that excites the reader.
They also work to remove jargon from their material in order to convey your message to your target audience clearly and succinctly, help you reach the widest audience possible, and differentiate you from the competition.
As a result, the outstanding content they produce will enhance your organic search metrics and increase your inbound marketing leads.
Overall, trained writers will help your content efforts position your company as a true authority that is knowledgeable, completely professional, and worthy of consideration.
Journalism tips to improve your content program
Below are 4 tips from the world of professional journalism that will help your business get the most out of your content efforts:
1. Avoid “one-trick pony” writers:
Whether you develop your company’s content in-house or via contract or guest authors, you should strive to create material that covers a wide range of topics. Having a variety of content will help you improve reader engagement, and boost your company’s keyword authority, search visibility, and inbound leads. Given that, it’s important to work with writers who can discuss many subjects, not just one or two topics.
But often, companies find that their content efforts are limited by their writers’ range. For instance, a business in the digital marketing industry might have a writer who can develop content on social media engagement tactics or on-page optimization, but that’s about it. While these topics are perfect for their audience, what’s next? How will they develop additional material on other topics so they can continue demonstrating thought leadership and authority in the marketplace?
This is exactly the danger of working with a one-trick pony. You need writers who can offer you variety and depth. When you are ready to hire writers to develop your company blog or website, look for three things: experience articulating a variety of topics, a range of understanding (from basic 101 advice to high-end, technical processes), and the ability to research and discuss new topics.
A good way to assess the strength of a potential writer is to ask them to develop three short articles that cover different subjects. For example, you could have them write one article on a topic directly related to your company and its services, and the other two articles could be on current events and/or something completely niche, such as alternative forms of energy, or how to build a computer step-by-step.
By challenging potential writers in this way, you’ll not only be able to get a feel for their current knowledge base, but also have the chance to assess their ability to learn about new areas and expand their range.
2. Make sure your writers know what the five W’s are
Before a great writer figures out how to introduce creativity and excitement. into a story, they make sure to cover the fundamental points first: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. And it’s important that your writers do the same. Addressing the 5 W’s and developing the content in an inverted pyramid format will help you capture online users’ attention. By immediately offering the most critical points of the story to the reader at the start – and funneling the rest down — you are able to satisfy their demand for information and answers, and position yourself in a way that supports their continued interest in your business website. Style and creativity are important for keeping your readers engaged and interested, but you need to work with writers who are able to provide an educated base for your readers to progress through. This will help ensure that they see your organization as credible and intelligent.
Producing a wealth of content that demonstrates your organization’s depth of knowledge will also help search engines view you as an authority. As search engines become more sophisticated in how they judge the quality of content, working with writers who offer substance and creativity will go a long way in making your company’s digital properties more attractive. As a result, search engines will pull content from them on a regular basis.
3. Leverage your writers’ talents to create the greatest reach
When you develop your content marketing strategy, make sure that the material you publish can reach and attract a large volume of online users. This will help your business continue to grow in recognition, search visibility and of course, sales.
To accomplish this, you need to tap into the full range of your writers’ talents. Strive to work with writers who understand how to create a mixture of hard news and evergreen content.
Hard news is anything that is current and only relative to the time period it was published within. For example, a piece published on Google celebrating Julius Richard Petri 161 birthday with a petri dish doodle on May 31, 2013 would be considered hard news.
Conversely, evergreen content is considered be timeless information that can be understood and utilized regardless of what is going on at the moment. An article on the top 7 SEO tasks to complete before thinking about hiring an SEO agency would fall into this category.
Working with writers who are able to produce an assortment of hard news and timeless content will benefit your business in two ways: it will help you capture immediate conversions in the short-term, and improve your search visibility in the future.
4. Create interest and differentiation with exclusive interviews
There is a reason that newspapers — and the media in general — promote interviews that are exclusive to their publication or outlet: it attracts significant attention that is exclusive to them!
And it is a very effective strategy.
But, if you were to quickly scan your competitors’ blogs, you would be hard-pressed to find any that offered their audience exclusive insight from a popular thought contributor or expert.
This is a mistake.
All too often, businesses develop content that is completely dissected and discussed in technical terms, rather than elaborated on and supported by actual experts and authorities.
Instead, you should strive to incorporate exclusive interviews into your content strategy. Have your writers be responsible for setting-up interviews with industry experts that pertain and relate to your company.
This approach will enable you to offer your audience something that they can only obtain from you, which will separate your brand from the competition.
In addition, not only does this tactic increase credible links to your site (since others will want to relay your exclusive content to their audiences and social followers), but also it positions your company as exceptional since you have such industry experts on hand.
Good writing is at the heart of a successful content program
Content marketing is very popular today because it pulls your audience in by providing value. Consequently, everyone is trying to generate more and more content. However, the quality is often lacking. Remember, good writing is at the heart of a successful content program. If you really want to leverage your content to improve your organic search metrics, establish your organization’s authority and credibility, and boost your inbound marketing leads, work with professional writers. They are the secret to creating awesome content! Just as you wouldn’t let a plumber perform heart surgery, why would you let just anyone write for your brand?
What do you do for your content program? Do you work with professional writers? What have you done to produce quality content? Do you have any tips you can pass along?