I scanned a Google search results page for “what does good content look like,” wondering if there would be anything new. Top results ranged from posts dated 2015, 2018, then 2016; nothing new really. And I saw pretty quickly the old ‘sky is falling’ attention span reports relaying we average 8 seconds on each page. Along with tidbits like: we scan, not read; we prefer video and pleasant images, not block text, old-fashioned press release formats; we need help staying engaged— bolding, italics, bullets, oh my!
(Eye tracking research is pretty cool, if you’re into that kind of thing.)
When it comes to good content, not every piece needs to follow the same set of “engagement best practices” rules, I’ve come to realize. Take 8+ seconds checking out this press release and then come back: 5 Reasons Why You Should Embrace Artificial Intelligence.
I think this was such a nice wire-friendly thought leadership post. Let’s quickly break that story down (even if you didn’t click the link, that’s okay):
- No company branding in the headline
- Used a number in the headline
- Headline is 56 total characters
- Headline plugs the sole purpose of the story, ‘Artificial Intelligence,’ and has a focused target audience (Not every Jane and Joe are searching for “artificial intelligence” day-to-day)
- Release starts with a nice, fun cultural reference
- The lead graphs are short, easily digestible
- The bullet headings are bolded
It checked off everything needed to keep me engaged. This thought leadership piece above didn’t use the company name in the headline— something some PR practitioners will scream you must always do. But for what is intended to be an evergreen piece looking for online discoverability, it wasn’t needed here. It also didn’t include any multimedia beyond their logo, but this blog-friendly press release wanted to keep its message short, to the point. And its target audience was going to stay engaged without the need to be drawn in by a nice image.
You’re not always going to get every piece of content in every marketing campaign perfectly crafted. And no matter what the internet tells you, there isn’t a 100% perfect set of rules on how to build good content. What is important is to take a step back early on in the content creation process and make sure you’re checking off what you think are must-have’s for it, ranging from:
- Compelling multimedia
- Strong and concise headlines
- Formatting that acknowledges your audiences’ potential to scan more than read in detail
- Content that is relevant to your target audience(s)
Lastly, while of course I think you should send every piece of content through Cision Distribution, it’s important to remember to engage all possible desired audiences across all messaging avenues– your site’s blog, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, email, telephone, etc. Do not miss an opportunity to engage with a loyal fan, possible consumer or investor.
Good luck out there in the sometimes chaotic din of the internet and media headline queues! If you need help strategizing on content, discussing your distribution needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to Cision.
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