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High Quality Content Defined

high quality contentThere seems to be a perception that all content marketers have a common understanding of what high quality content is. But do we really? Is there a common definition of high quality content that we can all agree upon? For those of us who started in editorial and became brand journalists, I think there is.

In some ways, I think high quality content is the same as newsworthy. Like porn, I know it when I see it. But unlike porn, I can define it.

High quality content that is also reader-worthy has three core attributes:

  • It’s not an advertisement. Marketers tend to break this rule, thanks to a longstanding tradition of believing that everyone will be as captivated by their products or services as much as they are. But those days are over, as Google and other search engines tinker with algorithms so that they return content that is interesting and relevant to the searcher. It’s why so many content marketers tell us to stop talking about ourselves.
  • It’s new. The best content tells readers something they didn’t already know. It’s one of the reasons that education and how-to videos are so popular.
  • It’s interesting. It’s something that readers want to read – and probably can’t get enough of.

There are other attributes as well – it can be funny, or heartwarming, or emotional – but these three are the common core.

As content marketing evolves into something more robust, we need to take a few lessons from journalists about creating high quality content. It’s not a coincidence that the best types of content originate in traditional media.

Five Types of High Quality Content

Here are five types of content that if you produce, you have a good shot at creating high quality content worth reading or viewing.

  • News analysis. What does a recent event mean to your readers? Analysis is the objective description of the potential implication of change.
  • Interviews. You can’t go wrong with a Q&A. All that’s needed is an interesting guest and 4-5 questions. Most people love to talk about themselves. And you don’t have to be the Larry King of interviewers. Look at the popularity of Reddit’s AMA’s: the questions are asked by everyday people. Good or bad, interviews make for fascinating content.
  • Features and profiles. Here’s your chance to be creative or hard-hitting – take your pick. Choose a leader in your field and write a human interest piece about him, exploring how he structures his day, what he eats for breakfast, how he got to where he is. Or, dig deep into a new development such as a rule or regulation. Investigate the background, interview the players and uncover the real motivators.
  • Opinion. All news outlets stake a position. Some are conservative, some are liberal, but none are neutral. Don’t just regurgitate the facts from “trusted” sources around the Web. The best brand journalists take a stand.
  • Trends predictions. Most of us are busy working in the weeds, so sometimes it’s hard to pick up our heads and see the bigger picture. Your readers need to know where their industry is heading, and what they need to do to head off disaster and seize opportunities. Be their beacon.
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Against SOPA and Piracy

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...

Today, many major Internet companies, including Wikipedia and Reddit, have gone dark in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, a House bill, and its Senate sister, Protect IP Act, or PIPA. SOPA and PIPA are backed by the entertainment industry and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

It’s virtually impossible to find an unbiased, objective description of SOPA and PIPA on the Web, although this one from CBS does a fairly decent job describing each side’s positions at a high level (the Huffington Post link is actually better but far more detailed). You can read the full text of the bill yourself, but you’ll likely need a couple of lawyers to interpret what it means.

Everyone seems to have taken a side, and I agree with Green in the CBS article, it is a battle between old and new. I’ve been in digital media since the early days, and as a former media industry employee, I can understand both sides. I firmly believe that copyright owners have the right to be paid for their work, and the law needs to put in place protections for these owners.

Throughout my career, I’ve advocated for copyright protection, while also recognizing that disruptive technologies were changing human behavior – and these changes did benefit the flow of information overall. I’ve always contended that the media and entertainment industries are complicit in the liberal content sharing economy we have today.

If the media industry truly believed that content had value, we should not have given it away for free when the Internet became commercialized in the mid-90s. Doing so changed human expectations for all kinds of media, not just print.

Still, that’s only one cause. The other is that technologists, for all the talk of innovation, haven’t really been enthusiastic about creating technologies that help protect copyright. There are notable exceptions, including iTunes and Spotify, but other than paywalls, where are we?

I don’t think blocking entire web domains is the answer. We need a combination of technologies and smart laws. One of the problems of SOPA/PIPA is that it was developed without much input from the big tech players. Perhaps we’re overdue for that kind of collaboration?

In the meantime, here are some views about what SOPA/PIPA means for everyday users of the web, PR pros, and content providers.

Simply Talk Media will not be going black today, but welcomes a dialogue about this issue on our pages. Just mind your links.

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