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New #MarketingNerds Podcast: How to Write and Stay Up-to-Date With Breaking News

In this Marketing Nerds podcast, Matt Southern shares how to stay up-to-date with the breaking in your industry, as well as how to write a better news.

#MarketingNerds: Staying Updated on Breaking News | SEJ

Visit our Marketing Nerds archive to listen to other Marketing Nerds podcasts!

In this week’s episode of the Marketing Nerds podcast, Executive Editor Kelsey Jones had a chance to sit down with Matt Southern, SEJ’s lead news writer, to talk about how he stays up-to-date with what’s happening in the industry.

Matt shares the tools he’s using and the sites he’d visit to get the breaking news. He also shared what makes good news and, if you’re a writer, how networking can help you write a better story.

#MarketingNerds: Staying Updated on Breaking News | SEJ

Here are a few of transcribed excerpts from our discussion, but make sure to listen to the podcast to hear everything:

The Process of Finding and Writing Breaking News

I still swear by RSS. I’m still mourning the loss of Google Reader which was a free RSS reader that Google used to offer. They shuttered the service because they decided people weren’t using it enough or didn’t have daily active views users. I signed up to a paid RSS reader and I’ve been using that ever since. I love it because you get instant updates, as soon as the publication updates their website with a new article that’s right there in your reader. I couldn’t do my job without it quite frankly.

I love Feedbin which is $3 a month. It’s great because it’s simple like Google Reader was. It’s just a plain cut and dry list of news articles from publications. It does exactly what I want it to do and it’s an efficient way to consume news I find. Some other RSS readers out there that are free but are a bit different are apps like Feedly that you can get on your mobile device or use it on desktop, which is a bit more visual RSS reader.

There are so many out there. It’s all about finding what works best for you.

Places to Go for News

My number one is the official company blogs themselves. For example the official Google Blog, the official Google AdWords blog, any kind of official Google blog that’s out there I definitely have that in my RSS reader. As well as the official blogs of other companies, I cover Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, all those companies I have. Bing of course, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, etc. Then, I also follow a few industry websites that report the news but they also somehow get exclusive scoops that aren’t offered by the companies themselves. Some examples of those are publications like The Verge, Re/code, CNET, those are all good ones that get the news out there right away but they also add a bit more insight to it than you can get elsewhere.

How to Figure Out the Angle Useful to the Readers

You can get the news anywhere. Anybody has the facts about the news story itself, it’s being able to add that little something extra that your readers wants. Whatever that may be. For Search Engine I found that readers like to know the practical implications of a news story.

For example, if Google changes their algorithm the readers want to know what they have to do differently or how it might impact the content they have on their site now. Just reporting that there is an algorithm change is only useful to a certain extent, the next step would be to explain why and how that matters to the person reading it.

What it Takes to be a Good News Writer

Being immersed in the industry that you’re writing for is very important. For example, I’m immersed in SEO and marketing, I work with it everyday so I can write about it pretty competently. Could I write for a women’s fashion blog? Sure.  Would it be any good? Probably not as somebody who works in women’s fashion all day long. That’s one thing to consider.

Another thing is knowing what makes a good news story. Just because a company sends you a press release, it doesn’t mean that it’s interesting news. It’s just their latest update that they want to get out. It’s up to you to decide whether or not what they send to you is worth covering. That’s some kind of instinct that you have to learn naturally as you go and learn what your readers want to read about.

Being able to do your job fast and efficiently is a great skill to have but it’s also important to keep in mind that you don’t want to rush that news story out just for the sake hitting the publish button before anybody else because that can lead to lesser quality stories, it can lead to stories with half information or just wrong information.

I do like to put in a bit of extra work into the news story I get out and make sure I get it from every angle and see what other people are saying about it, what other industry blogs are writing about it and paint that full picture for the reader. I think it leads to better news stories, it leads to more credibility to you as a writer and to the publication your writing for. Sometimes it’s good to wait and let the story develop before you hit that publish button.

How to Write a Good Event Recap

I approach recaps a similar way to how I approach news. I don’t like to just get the story out because you can get that at anywhere. For example with the US Search Awards I can write about the list of winners and sponsors and runners up and that sort of thing, but you can get that information from the official website or from just about anywhere else.

I like to paint a picture for the reader about how the event was and what they missed from not being there. I like to write about the ambiance, the setting, the crowd, how was the energy, was it a full attendance, any kind of interesting quotes that I got from attendees while I was there, what they thought about the event, are they going to go next year. That sort of thing that all adds more to the story.

Networking at events is very important because you can only gather so much from observing it on your own, mingling, getting out there and listening to what other people have to say about it is tremendously important.

The Importance of Networking for Breaking News Stories

That’s led to some of our best stories on Search Engine Journal to tell you truth because it’s exclusive information that I got first before someone else because I made that connection with that individual and we had a good rapport with each other and they decided they wanted to send me that news story to get out, have an exclusive on.

If a news story breaks and you want to know what someone thinks about it or if they work for a company they can provide some additional insight. Being able to know that person and having them recognize your name and your face when you reach out to them is extremely important.

You have to look at it in real life, because other people separate the digital world from the real world, but if you look at it like if you approach a company that you didn’t or someone in the company you didn’t know and asked them for a quote and they didn’t know who you were in real life, that would be awkward and unusual.

The same thing applies online, you have to think about it the same. If you’re just emailing someone out of the blue and they don’t know you and you’re asking them for help with something, it comes across as a little bit unnatural.

To listen to this Marketing Nerds podcast with Matt Southern and Kelsey Jones:

Think you have what it takes to be a Marketing Nerd? If so, message Kelsey Jones on Twitter, or email her at kelsey [at]

Visit our Marketing Nerds archive to listen to other Marketing Nerds podcasts!


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Paulo Bobita
In-post Photo: Oleksiy Mark/

Category SEJ Show
Aki Libo-on

Aki is a content strategist, marketing consultant, and former assistant editor of SEJ. When not at work, she is busy ...

New #MarketingNerds Podcast: How to Write and Stay Up-to-Date With Breaking News

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