If the saying goes that content is King, today’s warring agendas, varying competence and vulgar chaos would put Game of Thrones to shame.
In the effort to rule their industry, almost every player has ended up churning out the same old slurry by neglecting a key element of creating great stories.
It comes down to this: the world doesn’t need more content, it needs better editors.
A good editor establishes a fair, consistent point of view. They bring priorities, standards. They understand when to say no — and why.
It’s a concept that (forgive me) Steve Jobs brought to Apple, and rings through its most heartfelt advertising.
Leave it out
It’s not an instinct that everyone has. And marketers need to get a grip on this fact.
Too many marketing teams are kidding themselves that they can write, interview, or unlock the extra essence that takes the finished product to the next level.
And that word: ‘content’. It’s like calling a beautiful crafted cup of coffee a beverage. It misses what the substance is all about.
That’s not to say these teams are all awful, but look at it this way. While they trudge our generic slurry, there’s a huge crowd of talented, struggling, born creators that basically can’t manage to monetise their passion for what they love.
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And what about form? Great editors know form and content are two sides of the same coin. In publishing, we’re seeing a grand resurgence of open-minded experimentation with how you present a story.
Forget Snow Fall, it doesn’t have to be anything so grand. Just presenting material in the way it’s going to be useful is improvement enough. And no, that doesn’t mean an infographic.
It means questions like: Why would you launch a blog with ‘tags’ or ‘archive’ in the sidebar? Why would you call it a blog, what does that mean in 2014? What could it mean?
What should it mean strategically for your business and what does it need to mean to stand out to readers and keep them coming back for more?
The real measure
Finally, good editors know how to measure progress and success. But they don’t just enslave themselves to making arbitrary numbers bigger.
They find a balance between instinct and iteration, confident enough to take chances and walk a more irrational path where their intuition dictates. But cautious enough never to lead everyone off the cliff.
Some of that comes with experience. Experience you won’t get by simply sitting your junior marketing person down in front of WordPress. The world of telling great stories that generate value for your business deserves a more dignified and confident approach. But the first step is admitting you have a problem
Forget content, find yourself a real editor.
Econsultancy has released a new content guide, 100+ Practical Content Marketing Tips: A how-to guide for editors, writers and content creators which presents the lessons we’ve learned from ten years of writing for this blog.