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It’s never possible to know 100 percent how content will perform, and that’s because the point of content is to organically connect with people. We can’t fully control what publishers decide to publish and what audiences decide to share, but we can do everything in our power to make it more likely.
If you’re not getting the media coverage you’re looking for, you may just need to hone your outreach strategy. But sometimes, something outside of marketers’ reach can affect the promotional success of a content campaign. Although it’s rare, it’s important to know what may cause this to happen and how you can hedge against the possibility.
Unfortunately, marketers have little insight into the editorial calendars of the writers they plan to pitch. But this is something that can massively impact your promotional success rate.
This isn’t typically an issue, but it occasionally hinders promotional efforts if the niche you’re pitching in has had a major event that all publishers must cover to keep up with each other and with the news itself.
When researching potential writers and editors to pitch, make sure to have a section of your notes include how often they publish content a week.
Writers that publish more often have bigger editorial schedules and are thus more likely to be able to fit your content into their lineup. If a writer posts once a week or even once a month, that chance is much lower.
Also, keep major events in mind and consider how they may impact your vertical. For example, a presidential election could mean fuller editorial calendars for any publication that typically adds a political slant to their content.
In the journalism biz, this is known as being scooped, and quite frankly, it sucks. You could have created the most incredible piece of content ever, but if someone else happened to have the same idea and released it before you, no one would be interested in your material.
To be fair, this is extremely rare. Ideas are typically complex enough (and often niche enough) that it’s very unlikely someone is working on the same project simultaneously.
But it has happened before, and if it happens to you, see if there’s anything you can do with your content to give it a fresh angle. Maybe you can hold onto the idea and wait to update it with fresh data down the line. Or maybe the comments on the story that beat you to the punch can reveal what flaws readers found in the content, which can help inform your own piece.
Salvage as much as you can, and don’t fret – it happens to the best of us.
One of the best ways to prevent something like this from happening is to use original data in your projects. This adds a level of newsworthiness that is impossible to exactly duplicate.
It’s not foolproof, though, because if someone does a similar study (again, super unlikely), it could overshadow your findings. Still, if another outlet produces similar but general content that’s gaining traction, then your data could serve as a complement. This phenomenon sets up your team up for promotional leverage.
Life doesn’t stop for content. Things can happen that completely rock news cycles, and these events might render your content insensitive to publish at a certain time.
For example, if you have a content campaign that talks about death, and a natural disaster occurs, you’re not going to want to pitch that content. Human decency wins out over any data set. And if you’re doing outreach for your client, it’s your responsibility to know when it’s appropriate to pitch content that has their brand on it.
World events aren’t always negative, and sometimes, something happens that adds an extremely valuable timeliness quality to your content, giving it even more promotional potential. Even controversial timeliness can work if it’s not offensive.
But some events are particularly sensitive, and you’ll need to halt promotions.
Honestly, you can’t avoid this issue. But there are ways to still make the content work.
Don’t panic that you can’t pitch publishers now – hold on to the content for a few months and pick up pitching then. It may not be ideal for your strategy, but saving the project for a later time means that it won’t go to waste.
If you have the resources, you can also use this time to see if there are any other angles you can take with the project or any other data sources that are worth exploring to build up its value even more.
If you’re a marketing professional, you know how dramatically the industry has continued to change over the last decade.
Amid these changes, so much of how companies have crafted successful marketing strategies has relied on trial and error – on taking risks to assess the wins and failures and discover what’s working. This applies to all kinds of marketing tactics, from SEO to paid advertising.
Content marketing is no exception. Companies and agencies rely on a history of proven content and promotional techniques to find what truly brings success, and that knowledge is extremely valuable.
But while this expertise means content helps reach marketing goals most of the time, it’s still not an exact science. This is true even for those who have been in the industry longest. There’s still an element of needing to try something new to find the tactics that garner the most success.
Don’t avoid taking risks; they’re are often worth taking because the payout can be high (and the knowledge gained from trying it out is equally as valuable).
But sometimes, it won’t work out; the important thing is that you either:
- have a buffer in your content marketing budget.
- work with a content agency that guarantees a replacement if content fails.
The key to thriving in the marketing industry is understanding that things aren’t going to work 100 percent of the time and making sure you learn from anything that falls short of your expectations.
It also means working with a team or agency you trust to produce overall work that will achieve your goals and will make up for any flops in content. After all, content marketing is a long-term strategy that works after you execute several content campaigns and not just one.
Great marketers understand that being afraid of failure is the biggest hindrance to success.
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