High Quality, High Value Content:
Using a Journalistic Approach to Dominate
Your Industry with Content that People Want
CEO, Content Launch
Content Launch – Who are We?
• We develop high quality, search engine
optimized, sharable content that converts
• 300 U.S. based writers who know SEO and
content strategy – all major industries
represented, B2B, B2C, non-profits and
• An alternative to “crowd-sourced” content
where quality suffers
• Partnerships with over 200 agencies and 50
• Also provide content strategy consultation
• Founded in 2003
What is Going on Out There?
• Qualcomm hired a reporter from USA Today
• GE and LinkedIn hired journalists from Forbes
• Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz, two big
venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, hired journalists
from the Wall Street Journal and Wired
• Cisco has over 15 journalists contributing to its
technology news site, The Network
• IBM recruited Ben Edwards, a former reporter at The
Economist, as their VP of Global Communications to
help grow its Smarter Planet property.
The Times They Are a Changing…
• Is it marketing or media or something new?
• Why? Because business itself is changing.
Companies aren't focused on one-off transactions,
they need to build relationships. They don't have
customers; they have subscribers.
• 33% of total marketing budgets were spent on content
marketing last year
• 26% increase from the year before, according to the
Content Marketing Institute.
The Media Business is Changing Too
• There were more than 8,960 layoffs and buyouts at U.S.
newspapers in the last three years, according to Paper
• Jobs for reporters will decline another 6 percent by
2020. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
• Many reporters see that traditional journalism is on life
support at best, and they’re ready to reinvent
themselves as content marketers.
• Freelance Success – Has a special forum strictly for
writers looking for marketing communications/corporate
Media vs. Non-Media: The Financial Reality
• Media companies will never have the resources of non-media
• Salesforce.com can outspend and out-content Forbes.
• Apple can buy The New York Times if they want to.
• Jeff Bezos (Amazon) bought the Washington Post
What Separates Content Developed by a Media
Company & Content Developed by Brands?
• For a media company, content is created to make money directly
from the creation of content through paid content sales (direct
purchase of content, like a subscription) or advertising sales
• For a non-media company content is created to attract and retain
customers (sell more). Content supports the business, but is not
THE business model
Who's Good at Building an Audience of Subscribers
& Keeping them Informed & Engaged?
• People from the editorial side of the media business -reporters, journalists, editors, producers,
photographers, art directors.
• Some companies build a news operation simply
because they operate in areas that the mainstream
press doesn't cover very much
• Semiconductors and microelectronics (chip-makers
IBM, Intel, nVidia and Qualcomm all run
Questions to Consider
What is Journalism?
What does it take to be a journalist?
What’s the difference between a writer and a
How does content marketing and journalism relate to
Why is there a convergence happening?
What’s the benefit?
The goal: to become a content marketing or
What is Brand Journalism?
Brand journalism is sponsored content that is written like
an article but is really an advertisement. When the article
or “content” is published in a mainstream publication,
editorial standards apply. The piece has to be true. And
the publishing platform will generally tell you (the reader)
that the copy is a de facto advertisement.
…..but this is only one way to utilize a journalistic
approach to doing your content.
• There are opportunities for brand journalism in major publications and on
• Brand journalism used to be called “custom content”.
Convergence of Marketing & Journalism
• Paid (advertising), Earned (Word of Mouth), Owned (Corporate)
• Everything else falls in a grey area of overlap…"converged media"
because it's a convergence of different media dynamics coming
• Example: You see an image in your Facebook news-feed shared by
a friend. The image was generated by a brand. You saw it because
your friend shared it. They shared it because they liked it. They
liked it because the content resonated (and they saw it). They saw it
because the brand paid Facebook to promote it.
• Paid? Earned? Or Owned? …..Its all of the above
How do You Create Stories that Everyone
Wants to Read?
• Great branded content and storytelling example: Coca-Cola
• Their checklist for making sure every story is compelling and shareworthy:
Does it answer the “Why Should I Care” test?
Does it surprise you?
Does it have universal appeal?
Does it generate interest?
Is it new — something you haven’t seen before?
Is it different from what your competition is offering?
Is your content being measured systemically? (most content
marketers ignore this)
• Understand what compels people to act. Review metrics, talk to
customers and ask your sales team about the most popular nonproduct-related questions they’re getting
The Journalist: Core Truths
• A great journalist finds a story
• Tells it in a way that grabs hold of the audience and won’t let go
• Leaves an impression that stays with viewers or readers for a long
• Convey your company's true story in a compelling way by
uncovering the stories about your brand and how your customers
are using your products and services
• They narrate them in a human, accessible way; and spark
conversation about your company, customers, or employees
• Brand journalists bring a journalist's sensibility to your content. They
bring an editorial approach to building a brand
Every Great Story Answers 5 Questions
• Who: Who is the story about? Who are the central actors of the
piece, and why do they matter? What’s relevant about them that the
audience should identify with?
• What: What are they doing that matters? What’s the story? Where’s
• When: Many editors are known to ask “why this, why now?” What’s
the hook that makes this timely and is going to get people to read
• Where: Is there a location angle that’s relevant? What’s the setting
and how can you make it come alive?
• Why: So what? It’s great that you found a story, but why does it
matter and why should anyone care?
The Five “W’s” of Journalism
• Who: Who is your audience?
• What: How is your story going to be interesting to a broader
• When: Stories perform better when there is a relevant hook
(Environmental technology stories trend well around Earth Day)
• Where: If you’re publishing for a local or regional audience, the
“where” factor can be critical. Readers need local information, and
this content can help improve your local SEO.
• Why: Does the target audience care about this particular issue?
(Don’t just focus on company news or your products/services)
Structural Elements of Journalistic Writing
• Write a great lede - 1st paragraph of your story. It’s what
sets up the piece and what gets people to read beyond
the first fifty words
• Craft a show-stopping headline - You are competing
for attention like never before
• Write well
• You have limited space to tell a story
• Structuring an argument
• Culling out the most critical facts
• Keeping the story moving
• The writing itself must be powerful, evocative, and
Raytheon – Using the Brand Journalism
• Raytheon’s homepage: Features real-time news, images, and a top stories
section. And Raytheon is a B2B (and B2G) company!
• "You can see our homepage is very much a news operation. We've got
feature stories and trend stories about cool products." – Corinne
Kovalsky, Director, Digital & Social Media at Raytheon.
• @Raytheon Twitter feed - Journalists and defense department officials pay
attention and frequently use the content.
• Chris Hawley was hired as managing editor of digital content
• Worked for Associated Press where he won 2012 Pulitzer Prize
• "I'm helping to build a news operation; we’re working at Raytheon just
like an AP beat to find interesting stories and tell the world about them
in a way that engages. We have bureau chiefs in all of our four
The Experts Speak…
now have the ability to bypass the
traditional press and tell their own story in
their own voice in a unique and compelling
way. As I see it, good content isn't about
storytelling; it's about telling a true story
– Ann Handley (Marketing Profs)
Why Hire a Brand Journalist?
• They know how to tell a story - Journalists are trained to tell a story using
words, images, and audio, and they understand how to create content that
draws readers in.
• They put the audience first - Journalists are the only people who put the
needs of the audience (vs. the company) first.
• They know how to simplify - Business can be complicated. Our products
can be involved or seem impenetrable. But journalists excel in
deconstructing the complex to make it easily understood
• They tell the truth - corporate reporters care about accuracy and truth,
whether they are creating content on behalf of your brand or a traditional
• They quote sources - Journalists are trained in backing up opinions and
assertions with research and facts, and attributing ideas to proper sources.
That enhances your credibility as a voice in your industry.
Questions Content Marketers Should Ask
Before Hiring a Journalist (from Joe Pulizzi)
• Are they over the whole “church/state” thing? - Many reporters see
themselves as watchdogs, and believe that advertising, PR, marketing, and
editorial must operate in completely separate silos.
• Can they write for story and strategy, not just information? - The need
to incorporate narrative within a marketing message that resonates with
living, breathing customers. Many reporters are skilled at this — but not all.
• Can they recognize the core formula for your business? - Any former
journo-turned-content-marketing pro understands the organizational
formula: “Start with a problem. End with a solution.” It’s that simple.
• Have they developed a good ear (and eye) for referencing sources? –
Need good quotes, heads and subheads and graphics that grab you.
• Do they have what it takes to quantify success? - How good is the
writer at finding those telling numbers that support the distinguished value
of your company’s products and services?
How To Vet Journalists for Your Team
• They’re more realistic than idealistic. - Some journalists still believe that
advertising, PR, marketing and editorial must exist in separate realms, but
• They can translate the language of business. - These journalists are
able to translate the jargon and industry “buzzwords” of the corporate world
into a language that anyone can understand
• They can produce content across a variety of publishing formats. Content marketers may be responsible for producing lots of content types,
such as social media posts, slideshows, white papers, blog posts,
interactive web content and in-depth articles
• They’re relatively Web-savvy - Journalists should know how to navigate
social media, be able to conduct effective Internet searches, have a basic
familiarity with online publishing and understand SEO
• Strong interviewing skills and an ear for quotations – Journalists must
be able to connect with sources in a friendly yet professional manner, and
know how to ask questions that elicit the desired responses.
How To Vet Journalists for Your Team
• An ability to quantify the story - Journalists you hire must be
skilled at finding numbers that help tell the brand’s story and prove
the value of its product to customers
• Time management skills that go beyond deadlines - Many
journalists “let deadlines dictate their days,” Cleaver says, and fail
to grasp the broader life cycle their pieces inhabit
How Do You Identify Them During Hiring?
• Put their skills to the test - Give journalists a trial assignment so you can
see their abilities in action. This demonstrates their writing skills & ability to
research a topic and craft messaging in the right voice and style
• Ask for writing samples - Past performance is important, and writing
samples can showcase not only a candidates best work, but their versatility.
• Identify how much writing samples have been edited. It’s important to
get a sense of how heavily-edited writing samples are in order to determine
whether the candidate is really a great writer or not
• Match the journalist’s background with your content marketing goals.
- Feature writers have an advantage in that they are experienced with
curating information and incorporating quotes and statistics to tell a story
• Hire for talent over experience. While a journalists background can make
a difference, always hire with talent in mind
How to Break Great Stories for Your Company
• Journalists are always on the hunt for the next big story.
• They have address books filled with contacts, so they can be the
first reporter on the scene when news breaks.
• Brands can break news, too
• Use Google Alerts, SocialMention alerts, Twilert, and Twitter
apps like Monitter and Hashtags.org to track news related to
• Follow journalists and key individuals in your industry or related
to your blog topic.
• Tools like MuckRack for finding journalists and WeFollow for
finding people by self-identified tags can help you stay on top of
real-time conversations and breaking stories.
5 Ways to Leverage Journalistic Principles to
Enhance Content Marketing Strategies
• Obligation to truth - Great content is truthful and comprehensive. To
establish your company as a thought leader, your content must be
authoritative and correct.
• Customer loyalty - Know your audience and help them make decisions by
offering valuable insight. Educate your readers and then deliver it to them
in a format that they find most convenient.
• Independence - Readers and customers have become pretty good at
figuring out if content is just pure PR fluff. Good journalism is objective and
good content will present all sides of an issue
• Strive to make the significant interesting & relevant - Journalists are
great storytellers; they draw in readers. Good content focuses on issues &
trends that matter most to your company and customers.
• Comprehensive coverage - Effective content marketing doesn’t cover just
one aspect of one product or issue.