Content Has Always Been King

Facebook this month finally admitted that posts by business pages were being served up fewer times in users’ news feed than content from news sources.  They claim that clicks on news content rose 170 percent this year, indicating that people crave those types of posts.  Prior to that, Google’s Hummingbird update was seen as a way of rewarding sites for good content based on the intent of users’ searches.  With these changes, we’ve heard many, many SEOs and Social Media Marketers declare that “Content is King.”  Heck…we even wrote about content being king a few years ago. Well, I hate to burst their/our bubble, as if we all had discovered Noah’s Ark or something but, folks….content has ALWAYS been king! 

Mass Media Rewards Good Content

old fashioned typewriter keysThe Oscars. The Grammy’s. The Tony’s. The Emmy’s. The Pulitzer Prize. They all have one thing in common….they celebrate outstanding, even at times remarkable, content. Consider the vast number of movies that have focused on the American era of slavery and the Civil War.  Why does a film like this year’s “12 Years a Slave” get heaps of praise, and award nominations, while 2003’s “Gods and Generals,” which arguably had a better cast lead by Oscar-winner Robert Duvall, is considered one of the worst Civil War films of all time?  Many would say, “Well…it’s probably the director’s fault.”  Yet the director of “Gods and Generals” was Ronald Maxwell, who had previously explored the Civil War topic in the far superior, and critically acclaimed, “Gettysburg.”  It’s simple…the content was just better.  The story was better.  The writing of the story was better. And how the story was presented was better.

Content Kings Have Always Led the Pack

Every day, news happens. Whether it’s the current controversy over the sign-language imposter at the Nelson Mandela memorial service or revelations about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) intelligence gathering techniques or the National Basketball Associations (NBA) results from last night…it all gets reported by hundreds of sources. So why, then, do many consider The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Times (London), The Washington Post and even USA Today as credible, and thus very popular, information sources? It is because they are what I consider Content Kings.  They have, for many, many years, delivered a consistently high level of news reporting.  In short, they create great content.  With all due respect to bloggers out there, these sources are just better at what they do because they have been doing it for a long time. They create great content because they hire great content creators. They instill a level of professionalism that comes from a legacy of building a reputation that has withstood the test of time.

The same can be said for the “Big 3″ network news programs.  We were reminded recently during the 50-year anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination that many people learned of the tragic news through Walter Cronkite and the CBS Evening News.  One might think that today, 72 years after the introduction of CBS’s news program, we would have moved on from that source.  Based on the exposure some sources get these days, some might even think that the nation now only gets its news from online sources or the ever-increasing slate of cable news shows/networks.  A quick look at the TV ratings, however, reminds us that Content Kings still rule the day.  The number one show of any type during the week of November 25?  “60 Minutes.”  And who produces that show?  CBS News.  And for how long has “60 Minutes” been cranking out great content? 45 years!

How Do You Create Good Content? Hire Good Writers!

We tweet. We post. We link. We blog. We pitch. We chat. We text.  So many ways to communicate, linked by a common skill…writing. Despite this, when we hire, we look for people with social media skills or an SEO background or video capabilities or some kind of relevant business experience.  Yet so much…SO much…of what we do boils down to good, old-fashioned writing.

Do you request writing samples when you are hiring? If you say, “well…it depends on the position,” I would argue that no, it doesn’t. Not any more. Will the web developer you hire communicate directly with a client via e-mail? Then he should know how to write professionally and represent your brand well.  Will the video producer be charged with submitting creative briefs and storyboards? He can’t do that well without writing skills. Will an SEO have to create a compelling pitch to a link source? The effort will be far more effective if written well.

You will find it a challenge these days to find good writers, as was noted in this article about “Why Johnny Can’t Write,” (which I found via…wait for it….NBC News).  It points to a real problem…technology and other skills have been given greater weights recently while writing seems to be an assumed skill that most can do adequately. But adequate shouldn’t cut it!  Persevere to find the people whose writing inspires you to hire them in the first place.  That’s a good start!

And remember that content doesn’t just appear on your social media pages, your web site or blog.  E-mail is content. A status report is content.  An invoice is content. Your comptroller, community managers, interns, business development people…they must all have strong writing skills to succeed, or you risk having your brand brought down by weak content.  Alternatively, your brand can be significantly bolstered by a consistently high level of content at every turn.

Hire good writers and you, too, can become a Content King!

 

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13 comments on “Content Has Always Been King

Ric Dragon (@RicDragon)

Interesting thought – that writing skills should be the first gate a job candidate should pass through. You might have a point there – especially in a marketing agency.

BTW – the news sites ARE still some of the best sources of great content. But I do find content that is equally – if not sometimes better – on blogs. Maria Popova’s Brainpickings.org is a great example – her posts are top notch.


    Paul Rakov

    Thanks, Ric. I certainly didn’t mean that blogs aren’t a good source of content. A LOT of them are, as you noted…especially in our industry.


Abe Uchitelle

I’m glad you mentioned email writing, Paul. It’s something I have been thinking a lot about recently. The importance of being effective with email on the business development side is critical.


    Paul Rakov

    Then I’ll look forward to the next e-mail you send, Abe!


Evan Auerbach

Spot on Paul… Now that everyone has caught on to the buzz term “content marketing” people are creating content left and right, but how much of it good? In 2014, context will be the new “it” term. We’re already seeing the changes made by Facebook and Google to reward good content. From now on, people will either need to create good content , or face the consequences.


Nancy

As I once heard (was it from Brian Clark), the writer runs the show. And I would add… so, you better make sure you’ve got a good writer. One who not only knows how to deliver mind-blowing content BUT also knows how to use language to connect, to move, to inspire or even entertain.

Content may be king. But I think it’s losing its throne to connection. I’ve seen people create pretty questionable content, but because their intention was to make a connection, to touch something in their reader, to be helpful (not just a smarty pants), their message was gobbled up eagerly by their readers.

So, yes, hire good writers. Writers who can do your brand proud. But more importantly, make a connection with those you’re trying reach.


    paulrakov

    Good points, Nancy! And I know this is the kind for stuff you talk about on your blog at Firecracker Communications (http://www.firecrackercommunications.com/). Note to all…Nancy is an excellent writer!


    Ric Dragon (@RicDragon)

    ah, thats kind of my spiel, Nancy – creating a duo of relevance and context. Those connections place us in a context with our communities – our networks. (can you see my mind spinning?)


Aprajita Kohli

Marvels!! such great Methods here…. Thanks to Paul Rakov for Sharing a advisory and essential information that will definitely guide us .


David Black

The problem has become an epidemic – as the so called ‘bloggers’ are pushed to write ‘good content’ the whole web has become littered with gibberish – the trouble we now face is sorting out real content from quickly churned out rubbish, created for the sake of generating ‘keyword’ links.
What we need are good writers who actually have an interest in what they’re writing before the entire internet seizes up under the weight of worthless text.


    paulrakov

    Amen, David. As several have pointed out, good blogs are out there, they are very well written and have been established as valuable information sources. However, the ease in which one can start a blog versus the a legitimate news organization has, unfortunately, given people with little writing or journalism experience an outlet. But like with most everything else, the wheat will continue to be separated from the chaff.


Denise Holt

Great article, Paul! You should definitely write more. … Interestingly to your point about network news, I think they are the go-to sources by a lot of people out of habit, but I think the tide has been turning for awhile in regard to trust of their information. I think these days people tend to trust blogs more because they know the network messages are bought and carry a paid for agenda, and they have been found to lie a lot. … It’s interesting, but all the more reason for the focus by every brand to make sure they have quality offerings for their audience. : )


    paulrakov

    Denise…very kind of you. Thanks. You brought up trust, which is a very good point. Do we trust mainstream media any more? I think we do, but perhaps too much as you’ve pointed out. However, many blogs have an “agenda” they are putting forth so, their bias is showing as much as the Big 3 at times. It is a great time in which we live that we have so many choices, unlike the days of Walter Cronkite and Co. when there were far fewer news sources. What and who to trust falls on the consumer and our ability to form our own opinions based on multiple inputs. Happy New Year to you and yours!