Start with ‘why’ when creating content

Ben Hornbrook, 30 May 2013
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Organisations big and small are increasingly being told that “content is king”, that they need to start thinking like a publisher, that every organisation must become a media organisation. To many, “content creation” is the key to being relevant in an uncertain and changing media landscape.

We are also seeing a shift towards “branded content” or “sponsored material” that is blurring the lines between journalism, public relations and advertising. Writing in The Guardian recently, UK-based marketing industry executive Justin Pearse argued against the growing hype around these trends saying: “The danger is that organisations are viewing [content creation] as a panacea. [They are] rushing in, rather than remaining firmly focused on their customer, their interests, passions, anxieties and hopes, to try and understand what sort of content they’re interested in.”

I couldn’t agree more.

A report by Cisco predicts a staggering 44-fold increase in digital data creation during the decade to 2020, when at least 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet. With that much content to choose from, audiences are about to become a whole lot more judicious about what they consume. Organisations that create content simply for the sake of it stand a solid chance of turning their audiences away–for good.

So what needs to change? Like everything, content creation must be underpinned by careful, considered, strategic thinking that stops to ask, ‘why?’. Why are we doing this? Why should our audience care? What do we want them to think, say or do? These questions are vital if your content is to help you achieve your objectives, as this fantastic TED talk by Simon Sinek explains.

In addition to having a clear purpose, your content must not stand alone. It must be part of a strategy that is aligned with your organisation’s objectives and the needs of your audience, and delivered in a way that is convenient and useful. For example, as smart phone and tablet usage overtakes desktops, mobile integration is becoming increasingly important.

So, the next time you are considering a new article, blog, video or infographic, make sure you stop and ask ‘why?’. So that whatever you do – you do with a clear purpose.

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