Journalism isn’t like marketing, and that isn’t just because journalists supposedly seek the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Reporters and editors take an extremely pragmatic, “whatever and whoever it takes” approach to getting good stories. That means choosing and quoting good sources based on their knowledge and credibility. Letting marketers choose who can, and cannot, be quoted in your blog or newsletter robs you of the quality content you need.
Consider a recent client of mine who plays in a part of the enterprise software space populated by a huge number of consultants. These consultants help very large customers with very complex needs install very large, complicated software. The bigger and more complex the sale (and thus the more interesting for my client) the more likely it is a consultant is involved, not merely as a reseller but as a provider of critical, industry-specific expertise.
While rounding up sources for a new, online content marketing effort, my client laid down the law: The only sources I could quote were internal IT people at customers with internal IT titles. The thinking, I’m sure, was that potential customers want to hear from other customers, not consultants with an ax to grind.
But you draw prospects through content marketing by the quality of your content, not the titles of the talking heads. That’s why in an IT trade publication, you’ll see analysts, consultants, resellers and competitors quoted with abandon, just as long as they have something useful to say. If you limit yourself to quoting actual customers you’re crippling your chances of finding good sources. You’re also dooming yourself to weeks of delay while their internal PR and legal staffs decide what, if anything, they can say.
If you’re trying to achieve journalism-style quality, play by journalism-style rules and let your content creators find ideas wherever they can. It isn’t about being fair and objective; it’s about getting the job done.
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