The Four Truths of Content Creation

By Gary Johnson  |  November 5, 2014

What's your story? image

After my wife returned from a retreat, she recounted a workshop on identifying truth, and it got me thinking about the difference between fundamentals and truths. I further began to consider whether, as content creators, any truths can be found in what we do.

It turns out they can.

Although far less profound than the truths they sought at the retreat, certain marketing truths in every field of business can enable success of one kind or another.

In the brand journalism business, particularly given the digital tools we can use, certain truths, tactics, fundamentals—call them what you will—exist that should frame every effort we make at engaging those who seek information.

The four truths of content creation:

1. We Are All on a Journey

Each of us is moving from one point to another on a life map peppered with various journeys. Some are actualization journeys, others situational, and others consumer; whether one is buying a car, going on a trip, getting married, raising a family, attending college, planning a birthday celebration, overcoming an addiction, confronting an illness or seeking a product that will transform their business.

Using technology and data to identify what stage of the journey a consumer is in and then providing the most relevant content, delivered in the right place at the right time, is as good as it gets.

2. Reader First

It sounds obvious, but it’s not always the top priority for brands or content creators. Over many years of publishing print and digital content, I’ve encountered all manner of interference in considering the readers’ needs, from personal bias to an overriding need to sell products.

Editors, journalists, designers, publishers, sales managers, owners, clients, brand managers, marketers and corporate communicators often allow their personal agendas to look past the reader.

The first and most important question we need to ask is: Who is the reader, what does he or she need or want from us, and how can we deliver it to them?

3. Subject-matter Experts Rule

In a world of blathering, consumer-generated content flooding the digi-sphere with amateurish and everyday opinions, the notion of seeking expert perspective seems like a no-brainer. And yet, many consumers rely upon “honest” opinions from people not in the know.

Hoping not to be hoodwinked or swayed by some slick corporate jingoist, they opt for the uneducated and inexperienced opinions—of strangers no less! The fact is that countless educated experts abound in every imaginable field.

These experts have the benefit of deep knowledge and experience, offering an upper hand to those wanting to make the right decisions. Brand journalists are the conduits for that connection.

4. Storytelling Matters

Storytelling is as much a part of the DNA of human beings as love, spirit or propagation. Some of our first expressions of existence were stories scratched out on cave walls.

The oral tradition, the invention of the alphabet, fables, plays, Gutenberg’s press, books, letters, minstrels, town criers, proclamations posted on doors, newspapers, magazines, radio and television shows, motion pictures, viral videos—are all forms of multi-channel storytelling.

The term has gone beyond ubiquitous, but great storytelling, seen in the context of being central to human communication, has to be the center of our universe as content creators. And, if you can throw in a little WOW along with it, all the better.

Read next: Content Marketing vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference, Again?

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