Content marketing is a powerful tool to boost brand awareness and increase conversion rate ーwhen done correctly.
Writing consistent and compelling stories or content can be challenging for content writers, this is why content marketing services are in such high demand for businesses. The process takes a lot of time, research, effort, skills, and experience.
The good thing is that effective storytelling and content marketing can be honed and improved. One way to improve is to incorporate storytelling methods taken from journalism.
Thinking like a journalist will help develop your content writing skills whether you’re working on an e-book, a blog post, script, or a newsletter.
Here are five journalism tips that will help take your content writing skills to the next level.
1. Finding the Right Topic
There are stories everywhere. Content marketers should develop the skill to find the story in any given situation. When it comes to content marketing, the story will most likely be on how your product or service will make people’s lives better. It should involve the real-world benefits of what you’re offering and should be written in a way that readers can visualize what they’re getting. Then, make it interesting by finding a unique angle.
Your content should contain these elements:
- A unique point of view. Ask yourself what your content can show the readers that nobody else has covered about that topic yet.
- Clarity. Your content should have a clear focus and all the details should be aligned with the topic as well.
- Value. Ask yourself what value your content can offer the readers. What would make them engage with your content?
One way to find topics is through keyword research. Keyword research is when you find and analyze terms that people use or enter into search engines. The goal here is to use the data to pinpoint the right keywords that will help you create the right content.
When it comes to keyword research and content creation, categorize them according to what your target readers are searching for. To do this, you need to identify the intent behind the keyword.
Intent is classified into four, namely:
- Navigational - These are brand queries or domain queries. For example: “Where is Universal Studios in Florida,” or “Hotels in Miami”
- Informational - Informational keywords are keywords that help educate. For example: “How to ease neck pain,” or “how to write an essay”
- Commercial - Commercial keywords are informational queries that have business-related purposes. For example: “Prices for concert tickets,” or “How much for dental braces”
- Transactional - Transactional keywords are keywords that are focused on making a purchase or transaction. For example: “Hotel reservation,” or “Book flight to Orlando”
Knowing the right kind of keywords to use will not only help you decide on an engaging topic, but it will also help boost search engine optimization which will help increase brand awareness, traffic, clicks, and help you better connect with the right audience.
Use keyword research tools, like Ahrefs and Spyfu, to make the job easier.
Once you find the right topic, create a headline or title that’s sure to gain clicks. The headline should immediately inform the reader of the value they’re getting from reading your content.
2. Do Your Research and Link to Reliable Sources
Write about what you know.
Content marketers require superior research skills. You need to gather the right information to create an effective story. Journalists typically do interviews with resource persons and have multiple sources of information. You may not have the time to schedule interviews, but you do have access to several online platforms to get your facts straight. Roundtable discussions, white papers, industry forums, and news sites all provide a wealth of data for your content.
But not all information found online is reliable. So like any critical thinking journalist, get corroborating information when two sources offer up conflicting details.
3. Apply the Inverted Pyramid Structure
People have short attention spans. So the information in your content must be structured in order of importance. This is known as the inverted pyramid method.
In the inverted pyramid method, the lede, or your opening paragraph, should contain the most important information. Then as you continue to the next section which is the body, you should fill it up with the details or supporting data that will let the readers fully understand your topic. The bottom part of the pyramid will contain any added information or extra details that will further keep your audience interested.
Write your outline with the inverted pyramid in mind. And apply what every journalist applies foe their stories: the 5 Ws namely the who, what, why, where, and when.
Here’s a framework that you can use:
Header 1 (Introduction)
- Lede (Contains the most important idea of the article)
- Supporting Idea
Header 2 (Most Important Idea)
- First point
- Second point
- Third point
Header 2 (Supporting Data)
- First point
- Second point
- Third point
Header 2 (Additional Information)
- First point
- Second point
- Third point
Pro Tip: When writing your introduction, begin with a hook that not only introduces the main idea of your article but also grabs your reader’s attention. You can state a remarkable statistic or fact, share a short story that relates to your topic or reveals false information about your topic you would like to correct.
4. Be Concise and Get to the Point
Keep delivery and sentence construction simple. You want people to understand what you’re saying, not get them confused.
If you can cut a sentence then choose the shorter version to deliver the thought. In journalism, writers prefer to use the “active voice” rather than the passive voice. For example “The man bit the dog” instead of “The dog was bitten by the man.”
Choose to be more direct and go straight to the point. You want the reader to absorb information quickly and stay engaged. Your writing should also feel like it’s fast-paced, but not rushed, and has a quick tempo, but not hasty.
Another tip is to avoid using too much jargon. It’s important to value the intelligence of your readers, however, a majority of your audience won’t be experts at the topic you’re discussing. For example, if you’re writing about a pharmaceutical product and you’re targeting a range of people, then it’s best to use layman’s terms. It will not only benefit the reader but you as well.
5. Show, Don’t Tell
You’ve heard this phrase a hundred times before, which just proves how important it is to put this into action. What does it mean?
Telling your reader instead of “showing” provides information that’s coming from you or your description. You’re giving them limited data. For example, if you’re writing about a “hair growth” product, you may use the words “quick,” “long,” or “thick.”
Showing, on the other hand, allows your readers to form their own opinions and form their own ideas because you have painted a clear picture in their minds using words. Using the same scenario, you can state that “it brings back their youth” or “they can easily rock any hairstyle with how much hair they’ve grown.”
When you “show” information instead of “tell” it, you’re allowing your readers to form their own thoughts which makes it easier for them to feel the possible effects your products could have on them.
It would be better if you can also provide facts, and link to external sources like reviews or research.
Better Writing, Better Content
Content marketers can learn a lot from the storytelling skills of journalists. Both professionals share a similar requirement for delivering effective content: a keen eye for details and strong research background.
Although your blog posts, web copies, videos, and other forms of content may not have as much impact on world events as any hard-hitting piece from a newspaper, it does have the potential to change a business. It can make it or break it.
So take some lessons from how a journalist approaches their work. And start creating content that delivers value, engages users, and creates results for the commercial enterprise you’re writing for.