Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 21, 2010 3:51 PM

The Pillars Of Killer Content

Brands (and individuals) often struggle with how to create killer content.

Since the mid-eighties, I have been looking at all types of content from a professional perspective. Beyond being salacious (more on that here: The Secret To Getting Attention) and using headlines to bait the reader into your world, the core of the content has to resonate with your audience. Talent is a huge component of being able to create and publish killer content. Along with a deep passion for the content you are creating and a knack for getting it done, some of the best content creators out there also focus a lot of time and energy on both their relevancy and consistency.

There is a whole lot more to making great content.

Beneath all of that must lie a certain type of persona. In fact, there are three core personas that really bring out the best content. The good news is that you don't have to have all of them running at one hundred percent to get quality results (that being said, the ones that do are, typically, the ones who can constantly and consistently release best-selling content). For the sake of this Blog post, we'll be focusing on writing, but these types of personas can also apply to content created in images, audio and video.

The 3 Core Personas For Killer Content:

  1. Journalism. Usually, the best writers think like a Journalist. They tend to have a "nose for news." They're able to see and define trends and turn that into some kind of story. They enjoy the process of research, interviewing subjects and proofing their theories. The story is like a big puzzle and it's up to them to piece it together and turn it into something memorable for the reader. Prototypes include people like Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Blink, etc...), Dan Ariely (Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality), Clay Shirky (Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus) and Charlene Li (Groundswell and Open Leadership).
  2. Experience. The people who have been able to live to tell the tale. They've done it. They've mastered it. They're able to walk people through their thinking - both the strategic and the creative. They're interesting people who have done interesting things and have the ability to explain it. Prototypes include people like Sir Richard Branson (Virgin, Business Stripped Bare, Screw It, Let's Do It), Tony Hsieh (Delivering Happiness), Donald Trump (Trump: The Art of the Deal, Never Give Up) and Michael Eisner (Working Together, Work In Progress).
  3. Opinion. There are countless people with countless great opinions and ideas. They may not have actually done everything they talk about, but their insights are spot-on, intelligent, well thought-out and they add a different perspective to everything. Prototypes include people like Seth Godin (Purple Cow, Tribes, Linchpin), Tom Peters (Re-Imagine) and Joseph Jaffe (Life After The 30-Second Spot).

There are also a myriad of combinations.

Someone with amazing opinions may also have experience and some journalism qualities. The same can be said about someone with tremendous experience and additional opinions. The idea here is that you need to have one of these three personas, or you have to have some type of combination. As an example, there are countless great pieces of content out in the world by people who have tremendous experience, but they are paired with a writer so that the quality of the final product does wander into the "killer content" zone. In the end, great content tells an amazing story with the facts to back it up. It is then augmented by a unique opinion and perspective.

A great exercise is to look at your content and the people creating it, and figure out how these personas play into it... and if there are ways to improve on that.

By Mitch Joel


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