Journalists are expert information gatherers, storytellers and writers – they have to be, they want people to pay to read what they’ve written or get clicks on their website to satisfy advertisers.
Here are four tips and techniques B2B content creators and content marketers can adopt to make sure content grabs attention, is compelling and stands out from the competition.
1. Finding a good story angle 🔎
Journalists are described as having a nose for a story. The first consideration will always be their readers/viewers/listeners: What is most relevant, useful or of interest?
You can see this in action by comparing national newspaper headlines on similar stories. Each publication will angle the story to the interests and demographic of their main readership.
People will read what is useful, interesting and what resonates.
POINT OF DIFFERENCE
Journalists operate in a competitive market. The same press release will likely have gone to their rivals, so they look for a point of difference to make their version of the story stand out.
That might mean finding extra information their rivals don’t have. Or looking beyond the obvious for a different way of telling or illustrating a particular story or idea.
They are good at getting creative.
2. Adding the human and relatable 🕺🏻
Journalists understand the power of people in stories, from profiles and case studies to pull-out quotes and reactions.
Sharing a real experience can bring a story to life or be a powerful way of illustrating a point. It can make an idea or story more relatable or bring something unique.
Adding personality adds interest and colour to writing and can help it stand out.
Here’s an example:
A press release went out with research data showing how much office space was being taken by flexible workspace operators, where they were taking space, average rents etc. Useful information that would make a fairly standard news story.
One publication, rather than simply focusing on the research headlines, interviewed businesses using flexible workspaces about their experience to create a news feature.
It brought the research to life, giving the numbers a human face and their readers valuable extra information about user experience.
And it was more memorable.
3. Compelling writing
Interviewing and finding out information is only part of the job, journalists have to make sure the content they create is compelling.
As well as knowing what nuggets of information will trigger interest, they know what makes lively, readable copy. They know when to inject a hint of drama and emotion.
It could be choosing particular words or phrases that are descriptive and paint a picture.
Newspaper headlines are a good example of choosing the right words to bring a story to life.
Examples I’ve seen in the past few days:
Using ‘vow’ instead of ‘says’: ‘X vows to sort Y’.
Or using ‘hits back’ instead of ‘responds’: ‘X hits back at critics’.
Choosing these words and phrases adds energy and suggests emotion.
Think of descriptive words like investment ‘boosting’ a local economy or ‘navigating’ a challenging market.
Similes, metaphors or an analogy might make something more familiar or relatable.
A comment piece on updating Wi-Fi security likened hackers to car thieves who are only held at bay by new security measures for so long before they find a workaround.
Car theft is more relatable to a non-tech audience but still gets the point across.
Compelling writing is about creating intrigue to keep the reader hooked.
Sometimes, it might simply be setting out a question to which the reader is curious to know the answer.
Getting more creative, a journalist might challenge a commonly held idea – or appear to. Or put seemingly unrelated ideas together or present a list with an odd one out that is subsequently explained.
The unexpected can be an effective hook; surprising your audience can make content stand out.
4. A healthy dose of cynicism
Journalists learn quickly not to take anything at face value and question everything.
What is the motive behind actions and statements? In whose interests is research conducted, and are certain comments made?
The same scrutiny can be helpful for content creators in finding reliable and credible research to support thought leadership, for example.
Always go back to the original data source; if a source isn’t given, be wary.
Ensuring supporting information is robust helps add integrity to content and builds trust.
It can also be a good exercise to test if your content would satisfy sceptics. Can you confidently argue against: ‘Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you?’
Journalists are audience-focused and creative. It’s not just telling a story, it’s about the best way to tell it and how to make people want to read to the end. How to make it relevant and engaging.
If you’ve enjoyed a piece of content, look at it objectively to see what made it a good read. How did they angle it? What words were triggers?
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- B2B content marketing: How to think like a journalist and get more readers
- From sceptic to supporter: The case for B2B content marketing
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- B2B press release lessons from the world of theatre
- From yawns to yehs: Refresh your B2B content ideas and banish the boring