Working as a journalist, not a marketing copywriter, makes your content better. It lets the public see your brand as a trusted resource for valuable information, not a promotional engine for product peddling.
The first step? Think outside of your business.
Third-party sources can elevate the conversation with multiple and diverse viewpoints, examples, and experiences. In turn, audiences are more likely to consume and interact with the content because they recognize the publishing brand as an independent media resource, not a provider of products and services.
Let’s explore five ways to inject relevant and helpful external sources into your articles, infographics, videos, podcasts, and any other type of content:
- Ask organizations specific to industry, role, or geography.
- Connect to interactive platforms.
- Look for non-human sources.
- To use Qwoted as a brand journalist.
- Create a source network.
Ask industry, role or geography specific groups and associations
Tens of thousands of professional and business organizations exist in the United States alone. The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) reports more than 7,400 member organizations, and estimates to show that the total number in the United States is over 56,000. At least one of them is likely related to the topic of your content.
To find knowledgeable sources in these organizations, check out their websites:
- Identify senior leaders and their areas of expertise, then email or call the one most relevant to your content topic.
- Review board members to see which companies they represent and reach out to those who represent brands your audience will recognize.
- Attend the organization’s in-person events to connect with potential sources. Visit the annual trade show and chat with some of the attendees to better understand their expertise. Ask them if you could reach out to them in the future when you create content where their input would be helpful.
This articlefrom Dassault Systèmes’ DELMIA blog, on closing the gender gap in the workplace, includes an interview with the CEO of a relevant national organization.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
Teniel Jones is President and CEO of Base 11, a national organization dedicated to helping women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) lead the way in STEM industries.
I think the most obvious challenge female students face in the education system is sexism, Jones said. There is a misperception that women cannot learn or study in the same fields as men, and these perceptions start at birth. We have set different gender expectations for boys and girls, which translates to STEM.
Connect to interactive platforms
Use your brand’s social channels to get feedback from your existing audience. This works well for reaction-oriented or crowdsourced content because it allows you to incorporate many voices into your piece – and you can do it quickly. (Be sure to mention in your social media post that you can use their responses in an upcoming article, video, or podcast.)
But don’t limit your reach to your social networks:
- Mark your request for sources using hashtags.
- Post to LinkedIn or Facebook groups related to a topic.
- Use crowdsourcing sites like Quora and Reddit to identify contributors to posts on your topic, industry or content angle. Contact them individually.
ADVICE: Incorporate existing relevant social media content – courtesy of the poster – into your content. For example, Kate Parish recently embedded a Twitter conversation started by Elna Cain in this article on AI detection tools:
Look for non-human sources
Industry and professional organizations, as well as other brands, can also be a great resource for research, white papers and other media coverage. If you can’t find the right person to interview, maybe the best thing to do is blog or whatever. media coverage quoting that person – just be sure to cite and link to the primary source.
Paycor, an HR platform provider, cited a statistic (98% want to work remotely for the rest of their career) from research on the state of remote work by Buffer (a third-party source) in its remote work reimbursement rules article.
Here’s the snippet showing how they included the stat:
It’s probably safe to say that remote work is the new normal for many Americans. Today, more than 27.6 million people work from home compared to around 9 million people in 2019 (American Community Survey). And, those who would not. 98% of respondents to Buffer’s 2023 remote work survey of 3,000 people would like to work remotely for the rest of their career (Dampen).
Remote organizations can make big savings on real estate, but do they have to pay for remote employee expenses instead? When employees work from home, they use their own electricity, internet, and (often) office supplies. What portion of these business-related expenses is or should be reimbursable?
Be a brand journalist on Qwoted
Qwoted is a relatively new service used by the marketing/PR communications world to connect brand experts with the media. But content marketers can use it too – taking on the role of the journalist to research sources for their content. And it’s free.
ADVICE: Be precise and succinct in your request. Include what you need AND what you don’t need. “Query: Researching a telephone interview with a trucking industry expert on the impact of fuel prices. We already have enough responses from fuel brands or individual truckers. »
Review the answers with a trained eye. Delete those that don’t meet your needs. Then review to see who has the most surprising or interesting relevant answers. Use submitted responses or tracking to interview these speakers to generate that new content your audience wants.
In this article on Twitter’s role in marketing after the acquisition of Elon MuskI received a dozen responses to my query on Qwoted and picked a handful to include:
Create a source network
As you cultivate new sources for your content, be sure to document their involvement and contact information. Create a master spreadsheet for your team. Include the person’s name, title, organization, contact information, and social IDs, and note their areas of expertise. Then reach out to them when you want to get their input on the content being created.
Also add a column for links to content where your business has included this source. This way, your content team doesn’t use the same source over and over again. (It’s really tempting to contact a great source you can rely on too often.)
There’s no better way to integrate external sources into your content marketing. Whether you connect more with your industry trade group, research existing external referrals, use online communities, or query Qwoted’s database, you’ll create more credible content to position your business as a go-to media brand for your audience. .
How do you develop your source network? Please share in the comments.
Updated from a January 2020 article.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute