The dream, for any content marketing program editor, is finding contributors who not only have years of deep experience in the relevant subject matter but who also create beautiful, engaging copy. But what if no-one in your industry knows how to write?
The best content is generally written by those with a deep understanding of the topic at hand, which makes experts who can write well much sought after in the world of content marketing.
But such talents often may not co-exist in smaller or niche industries, which can pose a dilemma for those running content marketing programs; should they they opt for experts writing well-informed but dull copy or use a professional writer who risks getting it wrong?
Or is there another option?
Deciding whether an expert is required depends on a number of factors, including the topic and the audience’s level of knowledge. For highly technical content, such as medicine or engineering, expert knowledge is essential, particularly if the audience is also expert in the field.
Fortunately, with larger professions there is a very good chance of finding someone who is not only well versed in the technicalities of the field but who also possesses the gift of being able to produce sparkling content.
But with more niche topics, that’s not always the case. In this situation, a better option is to hire for technical writing ability, content marketing knowledge and curiosity, and give the writer time to deeply immerse themselves in the field, creating the asset that is someone who can talk authoritatively about the subject matter in an engaging way.
Research, research, research
Curiosity is an important factor in hiring writers who need to quickly develop an extensive knowledge base – they need to immerse themselves in the industry and ask the right questions.
They also need to be strong researchers who will read as much as possible, attend conferences and dive deep into the world of the client and audience.
Immersion in this way not only helps writers build up a strong knowledge base, but it also helps them understand the intricacies of the industries they are writing about. This is hugely important in helping them create content that is not only factually correct, but is on the cutting edge, and offers readers a new and exciting perspective.
In addition to conducting research, engaging with people in the industry can help writers and editors deepen their understanding of a field.
The best way to do this is to collaborate with the client to create a reference panel of six to 12 people who are passionate thought leaders in the industry, and who each represent one of our target audiences.
Editors and writers can speak to the panel members regularly, both formally and informally about what they see happening in and mattering to the industry, the most relevant story angles, best contacts and overall editorial focus and tone.
In addition to providing information about the field, reference panels mean that editors are always getting feedback from the audience to help them grow in the right direction and develop knowledge they need to be able to talk to that audience in a way that resonates and engages.
Reference panels can also act as peer reviewers to ensure the content is accurate and the right tone for your audience.
At the end of the day, it is often more difficult to train someone in the art of storytelling than it is to create an expert. Given an option between an expert in the field who can’t write and a wonderful writer who isn’t an expert in the field, we will go for the writer and create infrastructure around them to make sure that they are able to produce editorial content that is both expert and engaging.