Everyone tells us how important it is to create content.
Great content engages people, generates buzz for your business, and does all sorts of wonderfully positive things for our businesses.
But let’s be honest.
How many of us feel like our writing is akin to shouting into a big, dark empty room where no one is listening?
No one is talking about our content. No one is linking to it. There’s too much white noise as millions of people publish more and more content each day.
Without traction, there’s little to no benefit derived from that content you’re creating. You’re not creating buzz for your business, or generating leads, or increasing organic traffic coming any time soon.
So what’s the solution?
For me, the best way to generate buzz is to step outside of my comfort zone and start doing noteworthy stuff.
Be someone that people want to talk about. It’s not easy — not every industry or niche has the same allure as say, celebrity gossip.
But with a bit of creativity and hard work, you’ll find that it becomes easier to be newsworthy and get noticed.
Here are 3 tips to help you get started:
1. Find a story
Attention-grabbing content can happen in any industry. You just have to find the human interest hook.
There’s an art and science to taking a dry subject matter and turning it into a great story that other people will be interested in sharing.
If there isn’t a story behind the topic you are writing about, make one!
For example, I love talking about new small business ideas. Exploring new ideas is part of what I do every day.
But adding a new business idea to my blog is not really cause for excitement around the world. Each new business idea I post isn’t going to make it onto CNN.
So how do I find a story that is worth sharing?
I recently decided to go beyond my own expertise and compile a list of the top 10 new business ideas from university entrepreneurs.
That concept, after a bit of research, led me to spend several days (along with a few colleagues) putting together a list of the best new ideas from American University entrepreneurs over the last couple of years.
Now, that’s a story! There are many people interested in seeing what type of creativity and innovation is coming out of American college entrepreneurs.
And rather than just sharing my own business ideas, this compilation provided a roundup of ideas from a specific group of people. Additionally, each entrepreneur mentioned in the article got me closer to their audience, as well.
Which leads me to my next point…
2. Talk about other people
Unless you are Elon Musk or Richard Branson, a newsworthy story probably isn’t going to be about you.
Talking about other people gives you a far greater chance of gaining exposure across multiple sites and properties because people love to hear and share stories about themselves. It’s like sharing holiday photos with friends — they’re often not too interested because they can’t see themselves in the pictures.
By focusing on other people you not only stand a far better chance of having your content shared by those people, you also build and nurture valuable relationships with potentially important influencers.
Enjoying the goodwill of other influencers has tangible, long-term benefits because it leads to more referrals and mentions for less effort as people happily reciprocate as and when they can.
The more you can find and highlight content about other people and organizations in your niche, the more likely you are to quickly arrive at a point where most, if not all, your content is shared and read.
3. Don’t skimp on your promotion
Don’t put all your energy into creating, and then skimp on your promotion strategy.
There’s absolutely no point in finding and creating a great story if it’s going to stay hidden on your blog without being distributed and put in front of the right people.
That’s why talking about other people is a fantastic strategy for promoting content; it gives you an “in.”
There’s a big difference between tweeting something like this:
Check out the top 10 business ideas from University entrepreneurs
Congrats! You made it into the top 10 business ideas from University entrepreneurs
People are naturally curious about who is talking about them and, if they like what they see, they’re going to share it around their communities because it reflects well on them.
Not only that, but the fact is that most organizations are dying for decent coverage and exposure. Companies pay good money to have articles mention or link to them, so it is in their interests to share “free” marketing around as much as possible.
Naturally, I shared this list with all the Universities and colleges that made it into our top 10 list. Given that many of the winners on our list are currently in the startup phase, they were delighted with the coverage.
There was also incentive for the universities to share it on their news feeds since the coverage reflected well on them, as well:
And for the entrepreneurs to reach out too:
As always, make sure you’re sharing your new content with your own loyal audience. Include your new article in your next email marketing message and share the article on all the social channels you’re active on.
4. Don’t overlook traditional PR methods.
When you release a truly noteworthy piece of content, write up a press release and send it out to a focused list of journos, writers, and editors who might be interested in one or more aspects of that story.
For example, I sent out the following press release (about our top 10 university ideas list) to USA Today:
Press release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – USATODAY (College)
Title: Top 10 new business ideas from University entrepreneurs
The top 10 new business ideas by American university entrepreneurs has been compiled and published. The full winners’ list complete with profiles on each business is available on SME Pals at:
The top 3 winners are:
1) RaptorMaps – MIT 100k Launch
2) Latitude – BYU Big Idea Pitch
3) Focus Foods – Harvard New Ventures
The list offers a fascinating selection of startups that highlight the creativity and energy of young entrepreneurs in colleges around the U.S. Feel free to quote from the original article, use the media and screenshots as required.
How the winners were chosen:
The SME Pals team scoured university competition websites for two days gathering a list of possible candidates from winners, runners up, and other finalists over the previous couple of years. From that big list only those ideas that had moved from being an idea into a real startup were considered.
The winners were selected based on which were inherently unique, or offered elegant solutions to existing problems. The final rankings were chosen based on an assessment of how profitable (i.e. how much existing and potential demand there is in the market) each could be, what their growth potential is, and what possibilities there are for providing ever more and better add-on services/features as the businesses evolve.
About SME Pals
SME Pals (http://smepals.com) is a preferred free entrepreneurial resource with many great universities like Duke, Cornell, Boston, Emory, and more, because it offers an innovative and creative approach to generating business ideas; along with guides and advice to turn those ideas into successful startups.
And it wasn’t long before they picked it up and ran with it:
Of course, writing an effective press release is its own discipline. Check out How to write a press release (and actually get publicity) for advice.
Create content that gets noticed.
The point here is that getting real traction and buzz from your content is more about going on an adventure.
You need to get out and do stuff, learn stuff, and find the right story to share. If it starts feeling like a chore… you’re doing it wrong.
Find a story that pops, seek out just the right people get involved, and have a strong promotion plan.
The more you get used to finding the story behind the ordinary. The more influential connections you make, and the more success you have.
That’s a content strategy that’s worked well for me. But, I’m sure it’s not the only one. Have you tried other techniques with any success? Share your own tips and experiences in the comments.
About the author: David Mercer contributes to SME Pals a blog dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small business owners thrive online by turning creative business ideas into profitable startups. He is a tech entrepreneur and published author with programming and Web development books translated into over 13 languages worldwide.