“We wrote our first blog post before we wrote our first line of code.”
- Jon Miller, founder, Marketo

Blogging is important for every business. So we don’t just offer ghostwriting services for others. We blog for ourselves. Why? To discuss big issues such as content strategy, commissioning and ROI, as well as tactics for effective copy creation or editing, not to mention news about Collective Content.

Remember, over a third of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type. Let us know what you’d like to read about here.

Tag: SEO

11 essential content marketing links from Q1 19

  1. What CMOs should tell board members (and what boards should be asking)

Let’s kick off with some C-suite advice. Trust us, it gets more tactical and advisory from here…


  1. 3 creative habits that’ll make you more inspired and prolific all year

Ringfencing mindspace so that any team can be creative is so important (we referred to this as one goal of our way of working).


  1. How to turn a single blog post into a month’s worth of content marketing

We talk a lot about how every piece of content is really several pieces of content. It’s even in our writing and editing training course. Here are some useful pointers.


  1. 12 content marketing trends that can help your brand stand out

Juicy trends listicle – say no more.


  1. Multiply your traffic: 3 powerful ways to give your old content a second life

This is a key tactic for getting more out of your best historic content. But get this wrong and you come across as a low-rent SEOer.


  1. How to use LinkedIn as a brand publishing platform

Since we’ve been doing these quarterly lists, we like to feature something with a social angle – and in the early days of Collective Content, we’d often help executives with their LinkedIn profiles and engagement. But LI is about more than profiles.


  1. 3 rules for building a better content calendar

Some simple, solid advice about the kind of content planning every organisation should be doing.


  1. Copy-wise: Beware of too many, too few or misplaced commas

As well as our love of all things grammar and style (being copy-wise)… we love to drop in one of our own posts 😉


  1. Infographic: How to use infographics for lead generation

Not our first Contently link, but as well as loving the right kind of info, we love this riff on “a coffee table book about coffee tables”.


  1. Insourcing, offshoring and creative re-alignment: 10 things I learned about the future of B2B agencies

We don’t often get too inward-looking in these lists but this is a great insight into the kind of agencies you might end up working with – and when to decide you don’t need them.


  1. ‘You don’t get it. You aren’t the point.’

And lastly, some advice for any of us: It’s not about us – it’s about those we’re trying to connect with, however we try to do that. Remember.


Why 11 links for once? 11 is the best times table, no question.


Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent


Read Further

Time to go long

It’s tempting to assume writing on the web favours short-form. That’s what we heard for years. But long-form content – not just e-books and white papers – is valuable and usually worth the effort.

Distance MarkerYesterday I took part in a Hangout with Phil Szomszor who was asking me more about the negative connotations of the word ‘content’ and long-form as a subject came up for several reasons.

The initial conversation was about standing out online in a sea of mediocrity by focusing on quality. Not all long-form content is good but there’s generally a chance that the creator has put more thought into it and that it includes more detail, more voices and so on.

Publishers have cottoned on to this, which is why so many tried to ape the NYT’s famous Snowfall feature a few years back. Content marketers have had their equivalent moments, such as Builtvisible’s Message in the deep story of the submarine internet that spans our oceans.

Message in the Deep ScreenshotBut analytics for most of our websites also show that long-form content tends to traffic better. Perhaps that’s because it’s often more of a feature and so evergreen. But it’s often because Google favours the format, which often tends to get more backlinks from others. In short, SEO likes long-form.

Medium, length

One school of thought a few years back was that the combination of the rise of social media and content consumption over mobile devices would move us further towards short-form. Ever feel your ears hurting from all the people talking about ‘snacking’? But a couple of things became apparent.

Social media posts often like to point to weighty, well-researched pieces of content. The two go hand in hand.

But long-form doesn’t have to be long-form-only. Unlike, say, a novel, some of us are in the business of working with copy that can be repurposed. A colleague of mine a couple of years back was asked by a major insurer to comment on a 6,000-word feature that had taken a lot of work and was quality content, by any stretch.

He gave it the thumbs up but his follow-up comment was what stuck with me. “This isn’t a piece of content,’ he said. “This is 15 pieces of content.”

What he meant was that rather than think of one monolithic award-winning piece, the client should consider blog posts that could come from the piece, an infographic from the related research, a comic strip and maybe a video talking head with the author. And that’s not to mention snippets that could be customised for the company’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages, or in a series of tweets.

Long-form is really important – often so much so that an audience will give up money, personal details or certainly a chunk of time for it – but it’s just one arrow in your content marketing quiver.

The good news is that it supports much of what sits around it. It can be your north star. Your guiding light.

Make long-form content central to your marketing and business planning, if it’s not already.

*photo credit: GOC Walthamstow to Stratford 071: Lea Bridge via photopin (license)

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Need a corporate blog but don’t have the time or editorial expertise? Try Speech-to-blog, a corporate blogging service from Collective Content.

Read Further

You really don’t want to be calling your client’s PR team – or do you?

This might sound crazy. Sometimes we work for clients who don’t tell us much about what they do or when they’re going to do it. If we’re not careful (although we are, so in reality this gets defused pretty quickly) information a company puts out through its own brand content efforts can look less informed than when a third-party publication writes about the same subject. And that’s just plain wrong, right?

You might have heard some people, most notably Google, talk about the death of the press release. First of all that was in the context of certain companies and sites trying to play an SEO game through press release publishing. But it’s also about big companies just having to blog, as those who are interested in them will follow and read the posts. So that means no need for the expensive PR game that has been played for decades.

BalanceBut most companies aren’t Google. It is understandable that these companies need processes – PR, advertising, brand content and so on – to say ‘Hey world, we’re still here and we’re actually doing some cool things’. Of course not all the things will be cool but that’s not the point here.

So agencies like us get called in to help, typically creating useful content if it’s for a B2B client.

In fact we spend a lot of time telling the world that content from brands can be at least as good as content on the same topics produced by independent media. About a year ago, we helped a brand launch a new set of products with supporting business papers and blog posts. On the day these products launched, a well-known technology publication pumped out a 250-word nib (news in brief) about the launch. If the phrase ‘pumped out’ sounds bad, it is meant to be. I’m not being harsh for the sake of it but the nib was terrible. I won’t name them and that’s not because it was one of the several such tech publications I’ve written for or managed.

Why was their story poor? The most obvious answer is that it was bashed out by a time-poor journalist from a press release, without speaking to anyone. They might well have told you they had more interesting things to cover.

We, on the other hand, had weeks to study the products and related areas. And you could argue our writing had to be really high quality or else it would only reinforce some people’s view of brand content being ‘lesser’ content, certainly not media-grade.

Which brings me back to the opening point. What happens when we have weeks and good budget but we just aren’t given the details? What happens when one of our writers, as a hired brand journalist, calls up that company’s press office to get those details?

For one thing, the people who hired us and the people who run the press office usually report into the same CMO, so he or she might well be asking what’s going on. (Maybe not so politely.)

Secondly, press offices are very interested in getting favourable coverage from the media and other influencers – in short, independent third parties. Which we’re not. Every minute spent helping us could be a minute getting coverage somewhere else, even if that somewhere else is increasingly another company’s brand publication.

The bigger picture here, or answer or prevention or whatever you want to call it, is that brand content publishers, like all hired agencies, need to be properly briefed.

The difference is that many brand content creators are ex-journalists. Some are even working journalists doing some work on the side. For people like that, picking up the phone to get information quickly and directly from a press officer or PR agency is second nature.

But when the time comes for that PR machine to report where it got coverage and the people they helped, what are they supposed to say – “For enquiries 6 and 31 we assisted ourselves”?

We’d love to hear what you think, especially if you’re a PR or in charge of brand content programmes.

*photo credit: balance via photopin (license)

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Download our exclusive research and report ‘PR’s love-hate relationship with ‘brand journalists’ – and why it matters’

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Contact us

Contact us to find out how we can help you:

Email:  tony.hallett@collectivecontent.co.uk

Twitter:  @ColContent

Facebook: facebook.com/CollectiveContent

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/collective-content

Phone:  0800 292 2826