If you’re like most people in this day and age, you get your news from online sources. While news was once spread by word of mouth, like the traveling memory game that metamorphosed on its journey across land and sea, it’s now instantaneously international. However, it’s no less likely to change from site to site, catering to the literary tastes and culture of its audience.
Just a century ago, printed news became the most popular and reliable means to know what was happening in the world, and marketing quickly found its place among the inky pages. Advertisements and opinion columns broke up breaking news stories, as businesses bid for the best placement in the Sunday paper. Not much has changed, but the way you use media to draw attention to your organization and brand has.
Here are a few ways to use modern media to drive readership toward your brand:
Extra, extra read all about it
Let’s start with the obvious step: find the headline that has everyone raving. The point many people miss when building content around timely news topics is you then have to make sure your take is new and exciting. And I don’t mean by inventing news. It’s a common mistake to get excited about a popular topic, read a handful of pointed-posts, and dive headlong into writing your own version of their opinions — but new versions don’t sell news or credibility. New news is what keeps the media fresh and keeps readers interested in your content.
The best way to bring a fresh perspective to a trending news topic is to build your content around original research. Carefully review what data currently exists on relevant supporting topics and find your gap.
Does the #MeToo movement have your target audience engaged on social media? You could create a brief poll about comfort in mentoring female employees to draw their attention, start a discussion to find out what they really want to know more about before kicking off your research campaign, or you could look for inconsistencies in current data to set straight.
Since you don’t have newsboys running the streets of Manhattan, drawing readers in with their contagious song and dance, you are going to have to rely almost heavily on your title. Make sure your headline hooks readers by obviously pointing toward the trending media topic you’re playing on, but intriguing enough to convince readers they are learning something new. Be sure it’s not just catchy, but also targets the right audience.
You may want your title to attract a broad enough audience to bring in a whole new group of readers. But you don’t want to be so far off base you turn away your actual target audience. Run your topic and title ideas through Google and see what comes up. What keywords show up most often and how do those titles vary? How are major outlets in your business industry drawing attention on the subject? Will you be the first or are you jumping on the train too late to be noticed?
And make sure you’re not wasting your genius observations and advice on a quickly fading fad that may leave your revelations banished to the ‘not another one’ column of readers’ minds.
Really, read about it first
You want to jump on the topic as soon as it is evident it is trending, but be sure to research well enough to know that it’s true. Your credibility as a thought leader is on the line, and there’s already a lot of bad news reporting out there. Everyone is rushing to be the first on the newsstand, digital or not, and many media contributors don’t care if they’re recognized as a reliable news source.
Even worse, there are media outlets and cultural icons that thrive on the attention they get for their (often twisted) interpretations of current events or satirical style of presenting sometimes serious topics. Be wary of sources with a reputation for falsifying information for attention. And don’t automatically assume the details presented by a commonly recognized and reliable news source are actually unbiased and accurate. Everyone has their niche and they are writing to them.
Know how your audience is responding to a current event or new social media craze and choose your approach appropriately. When citing sources, refer to those your readers will trust, no matter how fetching the juicy details of The Onion or riveting the media drama on Fox might be.
Keep it relevant, keep it clean
Be sure to consider your brand and what it represents. Just because a topic is popular enough to guarantee a high click rate, that doesn’t mean you want to openly associate your brand with it. If you can brilliantly work Pokemon into your social media strategy, GO for it. But be mindful of the media attention you tap into. Even though everyone is talking about Gaga’s relationship status or terrifying acts of terrorism, that doesn’t mean there is a place for them on your better business management blog.
Consider your clientele and your audience. How will your content impact your current employees’ reputations or future employees’ opinions of your brand? Will your customers be inspired by your endorsement of Trump’s public relations strategy or turned off by your raving political stance?
The end goal is always to bring in more readers and recognition of your brand, but thought leadership requires just that — some thought. In fact, a lot of thought. Current events and pop culture are great tools to lure in eager readers and show your brand is about the “now,” while constantly moving forward with society. Just don’t be too quick to lose yourself in the news.
Read it, research it, and find the news your readers relate to, and you’ll have a boundless media means to drive readership to a whole new level.
How have you used outside media to draw readers into your content? Tell us all about it on LinkedIn.