You’re probably familiar with the term “newsjacking”—when a brand co-opts news to push its product. Newsjacking ranges from clever (see: Oreo’s dunk in the dark) to cringeworthy (Kenneth Cole responding to the Syrian conflict with a shill for new footwear? #facepalm).
Still, most of it misses the most important point that news is a great foundation on which to craft readable content, as long as the content is thoughtful and relevant.
By including timely content in your strategy, you’ll show readers that you’re up to speed on what they’re thinking about on a day to day basis. When planning out your editorial calendar, include a mix of evergreen and seasonal pieces that you can plot in advance, but you’ll also want to allow space for more timely content based on TBD current events. Keep tabs on news that impacts your customers so that you’ll be able to immediately create content that helps them understand and respond to what’s happening in the world.
Here are three ways to give your blogs, e-books, and other long-form content the kind of news hook that could boost your own subscriber base:
Tell them what’s up
Give readers useful, new information from an expert point of view. Your readers will be authorities by proxy if they share your post, which makes them more likely to pass on your writing and make it go viral.
Timely, informative posts can cover trends, seasonal events, and predictions, and the impact on your sector of global, national, or regional news. Some can even be planned for months in advance—a CPA firm might know, for example, that it wants to do an early January post about tax tips for a higher deduction, or a kayak rental company might post in early spring about five gym exercises to get your paddling muscles ready for warm weather.
To truly be a trusted, relevant resource, you’ll need to keep tabs on your field. This doesn’t mean spending huge chunks of your day skimming dozens of news and industry outlets. No one has time for that. Instead, choose no more than five resources that will serve as your news hubs. A good mix might include a national daily newspaper, one or two trade magazines or websites, and a couple of esteemed industry bloggers. Skim your core resources once or twice a week, and activate a Google Alert to email you when news related to your industry posts. You can also check Google Trends and Twitter Trends to get a sense of what’s on the internet’s collective mind and see whether there’s anything you can add from your industry’s perspective.
Teach them something new
Another way to create popular content is to focus on timely how-tos, like this blog from CPA Appletree Business Services. These present step-by-step instructions related to a challenging new element of your niche, like new regulations, best-practices, or useful software.
To craft instructive content:
Identify a timely, complex topic. To find one, listen to what people are talking about in your sector—actually keep an ear out for what frustrates your colleagues and coworkers. Pay attention to the keynotes at major conferences—what pain points do they dwell on? Keep tabs on the nexus of your niche and technology—what’s the latest useful offering? Monitor your Google Alerts for posts that include your niche and “regulations,” “fees,” or “technology.”
Understand that topic. This is, of course, the tough part. It takes a certain level of understanding to be able to explain something to someone else. Ideally, you have enough of a handle on it that you won’t have to invest much time in research. However, if you’re as stumped as your colleagues, you’ll have to go in search of an expert who can explain away your confusion. Pro tip: You’ll save yourself a lot of time getting someone who knows their stuff on the horn rather than reverting to online research or other reading. A 15-minute conversation with an expert who will answer your questions could be as effective as hours of online research.
Write your post as clearly as possible. It’s a good rule of thumb that the more confusing your topic is, the more clearly you should try to explain it. Don’t wander off on tangents, remove as much jargon as possible, and make your tone conversational. Your readers’ appreciation of your content will go up exponentially if your instruction is easy and efficient to read.
Tell them where you stand
This option isn’t for the faint of heart as it involves wading into controversy. Is there a hot topic that divides your world into pros and cons? One that seems everyone has an opinion on? If there is, it’s likely this topic addresses some of your niche’s most widespread and pressing pain points.
Consider adding your voice to the mix. This is risky, but it can be rewarding. If you have an opinion that is cogent and useful, one that you stand behind no matter what, then timely content about a controversial topic could add authenticity to your brand and shore up already sympathetic fans. Or it could turn them off. Tread carefully.
Content that genuinely and thoughtfully incorporates a newsy topic can make for a compelling read and can help distinguish your copy from the pack. To find those useful topical angles, look for topics that:
- Add to a debate
Finally, keep in mind that even newsiness works only in moderation. You’ll want your timely copy to also relay lots of “evergreen”—aka always in bloom—information. Otherwise, your content will grow stale overnight.