April 29, 2011
Online news consumption surpassed newspapers for the first time last year according to Pew Research Center’s 2011 State of the News Media report. Forty-six percent of respondents access news online at least three times weekly, compared to 40 percent from newspapers. Pew also finds that 47 percent of Americans access local news via mobile devices.
These stats may not be revelations to informed communicators, but they illustrate how the volume of online information is rapidly expanding — and Pew’s data only measures editorial content. Even Google search algorithms are challenged to provide relevant results from such an enormous pool of possibilities.
Enter the content curator
Content curation consists of identifying and organizing information that others have produced about a specific topic to share with your own audience.
It is a skilled and growing effort among individuals and prolific content creators alike. Pew estimates 18 of The Huffington Post’s 70 to 80 editors (pre-AOL acquisition) produce content, while the rest aggregate and curate.
This can include using social bookmarking tools such as Delicious and Digg, tweeting, linking to blogs and guest post series, among other social sharing examples.
The most serious curation, however, is consistent and focused rather than random. Information curators are trusted editors to those who follow them, and this results in communication potential for PR practitioners.
Author and consultant Don Tapscott says that curation and context are among the most important elements of content strategies. He points to the rise of curated resources overtaking traditional models to illustrate its inherent organization, publishing and engagement qualities. Examples include Flickr photo sharing eclipsing Kodak Gallery, Wikipedia rendering Britannica Online irrelevant and The Huffington Post competing with The New York Times.
A targeting tactic
PR professionals, their companies and their clients can gain notoriety and create an engaged audience by becoming the person, organization or Web destination that shares the best information about a particular category.
“If you’re going to be a content marketer, then you need to specialize or risk not being relevant to anyone,” explains Michelle Golden of Golden Practices Inc., a communications advisory to professional service firms.
Golden’s client, Paul Neiffer, now with LarsonAllen, publishes the Farm CPA Today blog for the agriculture industry. The blog is successful for its blending of original items and curated links about related topics of interest to farmers, rather than merely sharing accounting tips.
Golden has benefited from overseeing a longtime list of accounting bloggers. She was approached to submit a book proposal based on her demonstrated passion for the space, resulting in “Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms.”
Successful content curation includes defining what and whose content you will select and developing your topic with the support of your community of followers. These people ultimately help to organize, discuss and promote your material.
Producing original material for your information stream helps too. If the maintenance is not practical, then stay mindful of your industry’s trends during PR messaging and brand journalism efforts to improve the likelihood of surfacing on aggregated sites like LinkedIn Today and Alltop, or someone inviting you to contribute in communities such as the American Express OPEN Forum.
“Whether you create or curate content, you need to be an avid reader,” Golden says. “Continuous education keeps you current. You can’t fake an interest. You must be authentic to win.”