Good journalism can teach us a thing or two about creating blog posts. Journalists and inbound marketers who are dedicated to their craft have something in common: they commit to doing the things that engage their readers.
Here are five lessons from journalism that companies can apply to their blog writing to increase engagement—and get better results.
- Capture the reader at the beginning. Journalists call the first sentence of a story the “lede”—it's their opportunity to hook the reader into reading further. People scan articles quickly, starting with the first few sentences. If readers aren’t pulled in, they’ll move on to another story. When you’re creating content, your one opportunity comes even earlier—in your title or headline. With so much content on the web, and with content being shared in social media, people rarely read beyond a headline that doesn’t capture their interest. Spend time on your titles and headlines. Make sure they connect with what your audience cares about and accurately communicate what they’ll find in the piece.
- Do your research. Sure, you’ll be writing posts that are personal experience or thought leadership, but much of your content will require research. Even a personal experience or thought leadership piece is best when it’s fleshed out with statistics, quotes, studies, and stories. Don’t rely on the first thing that pops up in your Google search when you’re doing research. Hunt for quality resources from experts. Keep up with developments in your field, and be aware of what’s going on in your clients' industries.
- Talk to people. Interviewing isn’t just for the news. Talking to people helps you find examples, include personal interest stories, and dig deeper into a topic. Talking to people helps make your writing richer. You can look at this concept from a different angle by inviting people to share a guest post on your blog.
- Always be looking for a good story. Journalists have a nose for stories. They notice everything around them. They listen to what people are talking about. Follow their example. Also, think about how the things you’re reading could be turned into article ideas or blog post ideas. Content ideas are everywhere. As you’re going through your day, write down ideas as they come to you, and you’ll have a never-ending source of material.
- Read widely. It’s been said that good writers are good readers, and it’s true. Read voraciously in your field, read widely outside your field. Think about how what you read in the news applies to what you’re writing about in your content. Consider applications of short stories or novels you’ve read. Subscribe to publications outside your industry. Stay alert for insightful quotes. Valuable gems that can enhance your writing are hidden in surprising places.
Good content marketers, like good journalists, are always striving to make their writing better and to connect more strongly to their audiences. These tips will help you do just that.