The author’s views are entirely his or her own (with the exception of the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.
Ahead of her MozCon Virtual 2021 presentation, Amanda Milligan walks through three components that can make your content current enough to attract links: data, emotion, and impact.
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Hello everybody. I’m Amanda Milligan, Growth Director at Fractl, and today I want to talk to you about how you can create newsworthy content. My career was in marketing and communications, but my degree was journalism. So this is a topic that is very close to my heart.
So my MozCon presentation is actually about how to do a link gap analysis, which essentially means figuring out who your competitors are getting links from and then brainstorming how you can get similar links. Well, when it comes to actually building those links, newsworthy content is the best way to do it. I’m going to talk to you about some of the elements that are really important when creating this type of content.
So data first. Data is really critical to this process as most of us don’t have breaking news operations or full newsrooms for our brand. We’re not real reporters.
This is not our full time job. So we can’t just report the latest what’s happening. We almost have to create our own news by digging in and exploring topics that are interesting to us.
So, original data is a great way to do this. You can start by checking that you actually have internal data in your company that is of interest for relevant publications. Many companies overlook this aspect.
You must of course have permission to do this. But maybe you have information that would be really interesting. Or maybe you have an email list or a fairly active audience that you can interview or poll to find information that would be of interest to people. So this is a good start.
Otherwise public data is available. The government alone has tons and tons of publicly available records that you can use and even combine different records to see some really interesting things.
An example of a combination of these is for our customer Porch.com. We looked at information about how much different chores, no, not chores but home improvement projects, cost, and then we asked people how often they do those home improvement projects. We have been able to see the cost of home improvement over many years. This is an example of using two different datasets combined for new insights.
Third, surveys and other types of data collection are great when you don’t have the answers and data already. Maybe you can take a survey. Maybe you can scratch social media. Maybe there is another way. We took germ swabs. Everything you can do to collect data. Basically, it’s a great way to think about asking yourself a question that is interesting to you and would be interesting to your audience, or thinking about what is interesting to your audience.
If there is no answer, ask yourself how to find it. Then this article will exponentially simplify the rest of the process because when you suggest a reporter you will say, “I have exclusive research, new data that no one has really talked about before.” This is hugely stimulating for the media.
The second component here is emotion. Will what you are working on make someone feel something? Now I actually have a sample heading from TechRepublic down here. This is the actual one-piece coverage that we turned to.
It states, “Your zoom background may not make you look as professional as you think you are.” Now you read this and you think, “Wait. What?” We’re all on zoom. This is not good. So it has a surprise effect, doesn’t it? The reason I say think about it is sometimes natural when you have ideas we all tend to think about things that are going to have some sort of emotional resonance.
But if you think about these things from the start and imagine what a headline might look like, or what the interesting insights into something, you can really focus on the interesting parts of a project. You can also see more original data here – so this headline is from a survey we did I believe. So they can make a new claim that they couldn’t make before.
So emotions. If you are unsure of which direction to go, try surprise, focus on surprise, because many journalists like to focus on things that are new and unexpected. Also, many years ago, I believe in 2013, we did a study where we looked at all of the viral images this year and asked people which emotions were most present.
Surprise was the most present. So it is very common in viral content. But we’re not even talking about viral content. We talk about everything that goes well in digital PR. Surprise is a really great way to do this. So whenever you are creating any piece of content or a project, ask yourself what to expect and whether the results have come back that way.
Of course, you have to work with what the data gives you. But if you found it surprising, the chances are that someone else will find it surprising. Make sure this is highlighted in the results. Make sure the pitch is highlighted in the main part of your pitch.
Third, effects. Impact, it has several other names. Sometimes we talk about newsworthiness.
Prominence is one of them. Does that actually affect the audience? When a journalist decides what to write, he wants to know: will this affect my readers? How does this affect their daily life? So if you look back on this headline example of TechRepublic, their audience has likely made many Zoom calls in the last year or so.
So you know, after seeing this pitch, a lot of people will find it interesting. This is more in the general public bucket. You can do projects and I have another tangent content video for you to watch that goes in that direction. But you may think, “What affects a large audience?” When trying to get national coverage or to target a fairly general audience, you need to think about what is going to affect a lot of people.
What do we have in common What is something we can all relate to? Or you can still apply this in a niche perspective. You don’t always have to address everyone. But if you want to do that, then you have to concentrate and think, “How is this going to affect this particular person that I have in mind, this group of people?” If you can and explain to the journalists in your pitch this finding is interesting in my opinion because XYZ and they see that it has an impact on their audience, they are more likely to report on it because it’s in their interest, their audience isn’t just get them to click on these stories but also let them know about things that might interest them.
In this case, they may not look as professional as they thought they would. I put this heading here because it’s an example of all of these three things. We often think that we incorporate our digital PR perspective into the creation of content from the start. You don’t want them separated. You don’t want to create something and have someone suggest it later and have no idea where it came from or why you went in that direction.
Think about it: what are we trying to get out of this? What question are we trying to answer? If you have a thesis, is it correct? Are you proving it’s wrong? Those are going to be the interesting parts that will lead you into such coverage. So I went through a lot very quickly. The whole point is, if you come up with something new, if it appeals to a certain group of people, if it is original information and it has a great emotional response, you will be able to present it to the audience Media and hopefully media exposure for your brand, which not only gives you brand awareness and a very authoritative positioning as your brand is mentioned alongside the original research of your brand, but also incredible backlinks which in turn are related to the overall backlink analysis side of things.
SEOs really are always looking for ways to get excellent links, but you have to earn those links, and you have to earn them from creating newsworthy content. So thank you for joining me today. I really appreciate your taking your time and good luck out there.
Video transcription from Speechpad.com