The value of traditional media in content strategy

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Traditional media can play a part in our content and outreach strategy. But how? In this article, I share:

I was the guest on the #CMWorld chat on Twitter and discussed the role of traditional media in content. Traditional media has a role in content strategy even when we spend most of our time in the digital world.

Christoph Trappe on Content Marketing World Chat

Here are my answers to questions asked during the hour-long chat.

How has traditional media become less effective? Where can content marketing fill the gap?

Traditional media – TV, newspapers, etc. – has seen a decline in revenue over recent years. That has impacted staffing and access to talent. Many journalists- many veterans – have lost their jobs or moved on over recent years. I was a journalist early in my career and didn’t know anyone who had ever lost their job to downsizing back then. Today, I know dozens personally. The news business has changed.

On the other hand, traditional media continues to have large audiences, but they are shifting, too. People get their news online. Sometimes it’s just the conventional media’s website. Other people get their information through social networks and niche publications. But don’t get me wrong, people still consume traditional media. It’s just not the only medium anymore.

Read next: How to not let news coverage drive you crazy and keep you from getting work done

My perception is that traditional media used to have more influence, too. Oh wow, the newspaper said that. This may have had more of an impact years ago. But even today, people still listen to what’s shared by traditional media outlets.

On the other hand, what is the most significant opportunity in traditional media for content marketers?

Traditional media continues to share news, and journalists now have deadlines around the clock. They need content. Content marketers who provide expertise and context or help subject matter experts offer this can get their message amplified by traditional media.

For example, I blog personally and professionally. Every once in a while, traditional media will pick up a blog post, ask me to come on air to talk about something I have blogged about, and so on. In other words, traditional media can help content marketers amplify their stories and content.

Media coverage featuring Christoph Trappe

The same is true for other content marketers. Traditional media look for experts to help with context. This is where content marketers can help the media, while the media helps content marketers amplify their message. The key is that you’ll have to add context. Sharing marketing messages is not context. It has to be authentic.

Do you agree that print has a certain cachet? How do you find print opportunities?

For some audiences, print does offer a different level of intimacy. I agree with that. But for some audiences, it’s about mobile, web, etc. So it all comes down to where your audience is. If it’s mainly on the web, focus efforts there. If there’s an established print publication, focus there.

How do you pitch stories to journalists? Here’s a quick list:

  • Establish a relationship.
  • Share information.
  • Be helpful.
  • Friendly.
  • Don’t shotgun send news releases.
  • Insert yourself into the conversation when it’s relevant.

Just like other parts of content marketing, don’t sell! Connect. Add value.

Use sites like Help a Reporter Out to respond to quote requests.

Should content marketers pitch digital media the same way they pitch traditional journalists?

I think that a pitching-only strategy might not be the best approach anyway. What if we forget about pitching stories to journalists and instead focus on establishing ourselves as experts online?

Then, when it’s relevant, reach out to journalists and share relevant information.

“Hello, Mrs. Journalist. I posted this to my blog. You might find it interesting. Happy to offer more context for your readers.” Or something along those lines.

I have had news media who did entire stories that were started by this approach. They still got a somewhat unique and original story, but it was created by a reputable organization posting something to its blog.

How do you find newsworthy stories and topics to pitch to the media?

First of all, it’s essential to figure out what you’ll talk about digitally that aligns with your expertise. Then when there’s something potentially newsworthy going on, share that with the right journalists. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but I would not recommend always trying to insert yourself into a breaking news event. If you do, do it quickly.

Also, make sure your definition of newsworthy aligns with your journalists’ definition. If your definition doesn’t, your story won’t go anywhere.

The following might be newsworthy:

  • A trend
  • Something that impacts a lot of people
  • Unique stories (The power of new!)
  • Something unusual
  • Content that is really good
  • Something touching

Start thinking along those lines and that’s a good start. Traditional marketing messages are not usually newsworthy – unless something negative happened because of them. Then they might be.

Content is used in traditional ads. Is this content marketing?

Nope. Not content marketing. But the best ads – traditional and new – and the best content marketing tells stories-ones that are meaningful. This entire discussion isn’t about advertising. It’s about earned and owned content.

How can news reporters and traditional media complement content marketing efforts?

You probably don’t want to phrase it to them like that. Their jobs aren’t to complement what content marketers do. Many journalists truly believe that their job is to share the news in an unbiased way. While that is nearly impossible to do, this is many journalists’ reality. This is important to remember. So instead of asking them to complement your efforts, figure out how your services can help them. In turn that might end up helping your efforts. Sounds like content marketing right there.

Manage a public relations plan with traditional media

Megan Horn and I discuss the topic of how to connect with traditional media – specifically B2B in this case – to integrate them into a content strategy.

Even in an ever-evolving digital world, there’s room for traditional channels. People still use them-lots of them. Using all relevant channels can maximize our stories’ impacts and help our content marketing efforts positively.


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