New journalism techniques for content marketers

It is an endless, ongoing debate. Has the web been a good influence on journalism? Some cynics would say that it has lead to a dumbing down with longer, more thoughtful pieces replaced by shorter reads and an emphasis on subjects with universal appeal like celebrities, gossip and sports.

It can also however be argued however that the style of writing that has proved so popular on the web has actually enabled print journalists to approach stories in a very different way.

There are a number of ways in which web journalism is starting to have a significant impact on offline/printed magazines and newspapers and this is also becoming true in the content marketing world too. From ‘listicles' to crowdsourcing questions, print journalists are finding that the techniques of web journalism are enhancing their branded content.

Here are a few examples of how this is happening.

The listicle - The listicle, an article which is based around a series of points, has been staple in web journalism for years now. It does however appear to have become more high profile recently thanks to the success of sites like BuzzFeed which use the listicle very heavily. What the listicle does is give editors and writers an alternative way of telling a story. Sometimes a linear approach to writing an article is ideal. At other times it can be a little boring and safe, whereas a ‘ten things you didn't know' style piece gives the writer a framework in which they can deliver pithy, compelling copy. The listicle has been used in magazines for while too, but in publications aimed at the young as well as food based magazines like Asda's magazine by Publicis Blueprint it has become a key tool for content marketers too.

Condensed reads - Savvy content marketers are realising that consumers approach their magazines in different ways. Also, that readers like to have short versions of stories which they will then explore in more depth if they are interested in the topic. For example, Editions Financial's Sixty Seconds is influenced by the truncated content online in that it delivers articles that are designed to be read in under a minute. If the reader has more time they are then signposted to an online read that tackles the subject in more depth.    

Crowdsourcing questions for interviews -  Asking readers to suggest questions for interviews predates the web - Q Magazine were doing it over a decade ago - but it has become very common online now.

There are three very good reasons why content marketers should consider doing this. Firstly if you ask for question via Twitter or Facebook it gives you useful free publicity for a key feature in an upcoming issue. Secondly, you may find that readers offer different perspectives on the kind of questions they want to know the answer to. Lastly it gives readers a stake in a feature and inevitably brings them closer to the brand.

Harnessing bloggers and online communities - Some established magazines, like Cosmopolitan, have done much to build bridges to the blogging community. They believe that incorporating the views of bloggers in their magazine works to give them an edge in social media as the bloggers write, tweet and update Facebook to promote what they do.

There is also a fantastic opportunity for brands and publishers to work with online communities which may help take their printed content to readers who wouldn't necessarily have read a magazine . It isn't just bloggers. Redwood worked with the Mumsnet community for Barclays to build up a picture of how its two million members perceived the bank. That information fed back into websites and printed material for the company as well as enhancing the bank's relationship with the community.

Posted by: The CMA

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Posted in CMA blog
28thAug 2013

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