With fewer and fewer reporters on staff and the influx of good story ideas fighting for limited editorial space, earning the interest of the media has never been more difficult. As a result, content marketing, which can be defined as the process of generating your own quality online content, has risen in popularity as an effective way to reach your or your firm’s target audiences. I will first describe what is driving the demand for content. Second, I will discuss how to build your own content. Third, I will go over a number of different types of content that you should consider developing. Finally, I will explain different ways to effectively distribute your content to your target audiences.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of journalism jobs has dropped 25 percent since 2000. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of journalism jobs is expected to decline further by another 6 percent. While traditional newspaper newsrooms may be on the decline, journalism is not, however, dead. Figuratively taking its place is the rise of marketing and public relations jobs, which are starting to function more like newsrooms.
The formula for a good content marketer is two-fold. It takes great content and effective outreach. Good content does not mean just spinning out press releases. Rather, it means understanding search engine optimization (SEO) strategies and how to use the panoply of social media channels to get your content in your target audiences’ email in-boxes or onto their computer screens. To be an effective content marketer so that you can build visibility, there are some important tenets to follow.
First, even though you aren’t a reporter it is still good to uphold journalistic principles. Even though anybody with a keyboard and an Internet connection can “report news,” if you can’t churn out quality content told in a compelling way that is backed up by research, you won’t be as valued by your firm or your audience. Second, it is critical to stay current with changes in technology so that you can maximize the reach of blogs and social media. Third, have a strong niche. You need to brand yourself as an expert or “go-to” on a topic or area of the law that will keep your audience interested and wanting more. And, finally, be flexible enough with your schedule so that you can develop new content and place it in real-time should breaking news impact your content area.
There are several different mediums in which to distribute your content, thereby giving you a number to choose from that you are comfortable with to share your content. You can be like your humble author here and contribute articles (on average between 700 and 1,000 words) for a publication read by an important target audience. This is a great way to demonstrate your strategic thinking and writing skills.
If articles are too formal or not invited, use your website to blog (shorter pieces generally between 400 and 600 words) on topics within your area of expertise. Conversely, if articles are too informal for your liking, why not develop a white paper and submit it to an academic or industry publication? If you’re more comfortable or seasoned in front of a microphone or camera than with a pen, producing vlogs (video blogs) for your website or others can showcase your expertise. Podcasts are a great tool to demonstrate your knowledge for audiences to listen to at work, their commute home or their travels. Another valuable tool, especially for professional service providers like lawyers, is webinars. Many CLEs are now offered as webinars. Many of you probably lead them. More of you likely have taken one or more.
Now that you have built content by writing articles, blogging, leading webinars or more, how can you leverage into greater visibility to advance your own career or bring in new business to your firm? The beauty of content marketing is the ability to repurpose your work in various formats. You can share every article you craft or blog you post on your website, social media channels and firm e-newsletters. Your vlog? There’s a firm YouTube channel waiting to be built. You can also send your content to traditional journalists so that they might reach out to you when they do have the need for experts to opine or comment on a story they are developing.
The benefits of content marketing are multifaceted. Perhaps the best benefit is the ability to reach your target audience directly. There’s no filter. It also maximizes your opportunity to develop or deepen prospect and client relationships because you are delivering relevant news or advice to them in the way that they want to receive such information. Rather than pushing your messages without permission, you’re pulling your audience in with valuable content and making them smarter about topics that matter to them. What does that mean? It means leads, stronger relationships and an increase in the all-important measure: the bottom line.