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July 24, 2016

5 things content marketers can learn from publishers

If you want to turn your brand into a publisher, you'll need to adopt some of the tools and techniques good publishers use...

Both content marketers and publishers are driven by a common goal: to produce compelling content for their target audience. The difference is that publishers have been doing it for generations, and the industry has a set of techniques and processes that help it manage, produce and create content.

Unless you happen to have brought a former publishing professional on board, your marketing department probably doesn’t have any of that stuff. Simply put, the problem with marketing departments becoming publishers is that they aren’t publishers. The desire, knowledge and creativity might be there, but the machinery usually isn’t.

Here are five content creation and content management tips you can (and should) pinch from the publishers.

Build your calendar MONTHS in advance

Publishers have a content pipeline working many months ahead of live publication dates. This ensures content creation is topical, timely and in-line with their target audience and mission. A content pipeline acts as a roadmap for content marketing campaigns, highlighting the key topics to cover month by month. Editorial calendars allow for revisions but publishers compile them at least two months in advance.

Some go as far as writing stories months in advance, and have separate versions tailored to different outcomes. (If you were wondering how so many newspapers and mags managed to get masses of Brexit content out immediately after the result, that’s how.)

Create style gatekeepers

Subs are becoming an endangered species in media-land, but once upon a time journalists cowered before them. Good subs obsess over readability, appeal and house style. Like a head chef standing at the pass, they send copy back if it isn’t up to standard. So as well as creating a style guide, appoint style guardians who will make sure it’s enforced. The more staff members you can empower to do this, the better – relying on the top-level editor will create a major bottleneck and slow down your content creation process.

Work from a template library

Efficiently managing swathes of content requires planning and quality controls. For example, many publishers have templates for specific topics and formats. This enables them to move quickly in response to breaking news, and helps ensure everything comes through in the correct style. Even the smallest cosmetic changes – headlines in ALLCAPS when your style is Title Case, or two spaces after full stops when your style is one – can become frustrating and time-consuming if you have to do them for every piece. Instead of leaving writers to guess, or asking them to constantly refer back to a long style guide, give them templates that make everything clear at a glance.

Hire journalists and editors

This one’s a no-brainer. Imitate brilliant publications by hiring journalists and editors. This will ensure you produce high-quality content that’s accurate and written specifically for your target audience. Journalists know how to package content into compelling stories, and it is great storytelling that will leverage your customer’s emotions and drive long-term engagement.

Harness knowledge from multiple sources

Publishers gather information not only from their reporters and editors, but also from contributors, industry experts and thought leaders. Using multiple sources adds credibility to your work, diversifies its reach and limits unconscious bias.

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