5 simple ways to be a better publisher

Industrial age print presses are no longer required.
Industrial age print presses are no longer required to get your message out.

Publishing content has never been this easy, companies no longer have to rely on traditional media to get their message out.

Whether you’re publishing content as a company or an individual, there are a few fundamentals to keep in mind.

1. Know your audience

Who are you writing for? This is the first and most important step towards designing content to appeal to that audience. Take the highly-coveted world of the ‘mommy blogger.’  Pampers has created ‘Mommy Corner’, with lots of parenting tips for newbie parents. The site offers tips on how to get babies to sleep through the night, what to do with your toddler on a rainy day, cooking with your child… and coupons and explanations of its full product line.
BONUS: Get your audience to join in, and create its own content! Lots of sites have an active community of writers, looking to get their voice out to a wider audience. Involve your audience in the discussion, and watch your web traffic grow as they share with their networks.

hook2. The importance of a hook

Once you know your audience, you know what matters to them – this will help you understand your ‘hook,’ – the timeliness or importance of your product and how you can best appeal to your audience. Your hook should lead your content, be it blog post, or email newsletter. Without a good hook, you’ll never catch a fish. Yes, I may have pushed that metaphor a tad too far.

3. It all comes back to message

Let’s not forget the reason you are aiming to be your own publisher in the first place – you want your message out there, front and centre. Every story you tell, every post you create on social media, it all has to come back to your message. You need to know in advance exactly how you want your audience to feel about your brand, and how your content will drive home that message.
Recently, Trace Cohen, head of Digital Marketing for BlackBerry, spoke at the Digital Strategy Conference in Ottawa. She knew BlackBerry had to tell its own story when it launched its new Passport device in September.
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Cohen’s team wrote 180 real-time blog posts as the Passport was introduced to the world. Since then, the BlackBerry blog has seen a 1,400% increase in traffic.*

4. Gather a team of storytellers

They don’t have to all be wordsmiths – some of the best storytellers work in video – but your publishing team must be collaborative and creative. You want your team to amplify your message and tell your story – in a way that appeals to and engages your audience.
While there’s strength in numbers, size doesn’t mean everything. Remember Cohen’s team of bloggers at BlackBerry, producing more than 180 posts?
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5. Don’t be afraid to try things

No, really. How often have companies said this, but still feared failure. Just because you’ve never created a Facebook post geared to mental health on suicide prevention day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. United Way Ottawa recently did this and saw this post shared more than anything else in the history of its page. Sometimes this means telling a story with video, rather than words. Take a deep breath and try it.
Recently, the clever storytellers in our shop suggested we try ‘vlogging.’ I felt like an old lady as they explained the concept – which, I believe was something like ‘it’s like a selfie video.’ Now, as a journalism school graduate who has worked for the public television broadcaster, I was nervous about turning the camera around to shoot myself with a phone and interview folks at a recent event. But sometimes, you just have to give these things a try.
It’s not perfect – in fact, I have a laundry list of ways I think we could do this better. But it’s different, which is a start. (And I finished the 5k in under 30 minutes while holding an iPhone, so there’s that.)
Because different can get you noticed, grow your audience, and amplify your message.
*So much more can be said about the BlackBerry team’s work during the Passport release. I’m going to blog more on her talk at a later date.
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