One of the first things journalists learn about is the idea of newsworthiness. As an innate part of the job, they quickly develop a deep understanding of what is relevant, interesting and something that people want or need to know.

Without being able to gauge whether a story is newsworthy, journalists risk reporting on things that nobody really cares about. Of course, judging whether a story or topic is newsworthy is a fairly subjective exercise, but there are some tried and true methods for identifying ways to get your content noticed, read and respected.

Certain types of stories are inherently newsworthy, based on their significance or prominence. A space shuttle launch, a public figure’s death or a new law that affects a large number of people would all qualify. A famous politician who gets arrested for driving under the influence is most certainly going to make the news, but Joe Schmoe’s arrest for the same charge might fly under the radar.

While media coverage has arguably gone too far down the road of doom and gloom — have you ever heard the saying, “if it bleeds, it leads?” — brands should look to journalists’ skill sets for their many other valuable attributes, most notably the ability to find the stories that make big impacts for less obvious reasons. This ability is also why companies should consider hiring brand journalists for their content marketing efforts.

You can’t always know or assume what people will find interesting, but brands considering what kind of content to publish should consider the following journalistic principles that have stood the test of time.

1. Be authentic

Brand content immediately faces an uphill battle in convincing readers of its credibility because, well, it’s brand content. A business that publishes content must be doing it for self-serving reasons, right? 

Sure, but brands still have an opportunity to be authentic and to tell stories that uphold their own values and credibility. Every business in the world specializes in selling a product or service. With your brand content, distinguish which forms serve your marketing needs from the top-of-funnel content designed to increase awareness and share expertise. 

In short, your content should be “on-brand,” but first you have to define what that brand identity is. Otherwise, you’ll risk confusing people or harming your brand’s credibility.

2. Provide value to your audience

Why does the content you’re publishing matter to your audience? Why are they going to care about this topic? Why should they care? Journalists are trained to look for a story’s angle or news hook — the compelling reason or reasons that will make people want to take time out of their day to consume the information. 

Your content can’t be all things to all people, but it’s important to avoid eliminating a large part of your audience by not addressing these fundamental questions. Publishing content that people want to read requires more than just a talented writer or a knowledgeable expert. In order to engage readers, you have to make an emotional connection or solve a problem to which they can relate — you have to provide value

According to the American Press Institute, “Treatment trumps topic. How a story is told is more important to the audience than its topic, what it is about. The best story is a well-told tale about something the reader feels is relevant or significant.

“The best stories are more complete and more comprehensive. They contain more verified information from more sources with more viewpoints and expertise. They exhibit more enterprise, more reportorial effort.”

3. Use human interest storytelling

Much like news value, stories that lack a human element can fall flat. You don’t want to read content about a bunch of talking heads telling you to care about something because it’s important. As human beings, we need to feel that importance. We have to relate to it. 

Let’s say your brand is in the business of selling shoes. Everyone wears shoes and everyone needs new shoes eventually, but that’s not going to ensure they all want to read your content about shoes.

Maybe there’s a new shoe sole technology that helps reduce lower back pain. That would be relevant to people with back pain, but is talking about the benefits of the technology itself enough to engage people? Wouldn’t it be more compelling to tell the story about how a wearer of these new shoe soles overcame debilitating pain and is now running marathons?

Maybe your brand’s lab reports are helping doctors identify infections in hospital patients, or your software solved an efficiency problem for a business that led to dramatic increases in revenue. Don’t just create content that tells doctors you’re identifying infections in patients — show them through original, emotive storytelling. 

4. Don’t assume

The only thing journalists are trained to assume is that their audience knows little to nothing about the subject about which they’re reporting. I once had an editor who would lose his mind every time you tried to slip in an acronym, even seemingly well known ones like the CDC or FBI (that’s the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, respectively). 

By inserting ambiguity or assuming something is commonly known, you risk irritating your readers. Writing about esoteric subjects without sufficient explanation is also a surefire way to appear arrogant or smug. That’s no way to keep readers engaged. 

There are some exceptions to this rule with niche B2B content targeted at knowledgeable industry authorities, but generally speaking, don’t assume your audience has the same level of understanding about a topic as you do. Don’t assume their ignorance, either, but always offer explanations for complex concepts or topics that aren’t widely understood outside of your market. Your audience might be more targeted or niche, but that doesn’t mean your content should be arcane.

5. Narrow your focus

Don’t try to use a 1,000-word blog to tell the whole story. You have to develop a specific angle or focus that engages your audience without diluting your content or your message. Put important information into context for your audience, but don’t veer off topic or try to include too many points in one piece. 

Journalists are taught to be clear and concise — more words never equal a better, more complete story, no matter what writers might think. Sometimes, a verbose story causes more ambiguity for a reader than a story on the same topic that’s half the length.

There are always more blogs down the road that can help you address that one subtheme you just wish you had more space to expound upon — and there are always professional brand journalists eager to help you write them. 

Outsource your content with our brand journalism solution

PowerPublish is changing the way brands outsource content. With our dedicated virtual editors, we’re helping businesses create compelling content that builds brand awareness, generates leads, provides strong SEO and demonstrates thought leadership. 

Contact us today for a demo to see how we can help you stop just simply marketing content and start PowerPublishing impactful brand journalism that drives revenue and delivers results.