I’ve heard a lot about viral marketing, SEO and the financial benefits of a huge online presence — in business, anyway. I have both a day job as a provider of content — and a personal, artistic mission to create other sorts of objects and works. I’m often torn between what the business I work for needs vs. potential needs the content consumers might want, based on my own philosophical or artistic instincts. So far, I’ve discovered that online media is different from print in many ways, but when it is really good content, and not just clipped and pasted or rehashed stat crunching, it is not very different at all.
I grew up in newspapers, and have worked with brilliant editors and reporters, and extremely talented art directors and photographers. Because my career has spanned many years in print publishing, I know what it was like to experience the thrill of getting the job done “right” on breaking news without regard for manpower, cost, time constraints or resources. These days in print, I know how difficult it is to work very, very hard and get the job done “right” with none of those things. One thing hasn’t changed, though. That is the why of what we “content providers” do. Good “content providers” primarily ask why, and then, they try like the dickens to provide the answer for the readers.
Because I am a logical thinker, I’ve created a construct — so I can balance the dueling goals of my job and my calling. I happen to think the famous movie line, “If you build it, they will come” is totally right — just create good content, and you will be read, bookmarked, and tweeted. As long as they can find you. That is where life gets interesting, and the place where my head crashes against the wall over and over. Because SEO becomes a numbers game eventually — no matter how great your content is — it didn’t really seem fair until I figured this out. The classic 5 W’s of journalism are still true. You just need to frame them differently.
The business leaders want to know What people are searching for.
The researchers want to know Who those people are.
The marketers want to know Where they can get reliable data on them.
Your boss wants to know When you can create the golden goose.
You question Why people are searching for that particular thing, and how the heck you are going to create SEO content around it on deadline so everyone above you can figure out How to cash in on it.
Funny? I don’t know. But it sure seems true more times than not.
Today’s tip: You should always keep 3 versions of every photo of your work ready for use at any time: A big, print resolution, color-corrected CMYK file, a web-resolution RGB jpeg, and a smaller, email version of the RGB jpeg. Have your photographer enter the caption data in the Photoshop file for you — the PR people and editors you send your press information to will thank you for that.