PODCAST: When to curate and when to create unique content

Estimated read time: 7 minutes

This podcast discusses how to find the right mix of curating content and creating unique content.

Mentioned in podcast:

Picture and Words Tell the Story of Boy and Police Officer’s Hug

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Transcription of PODCAST: When to curate and when to create unique content

Hi there, Christoph Trappe here, and today I want to talk about the curation of content. When do you curate, when do you come up with your own content, and how do you curate other people’s content. So I want to talk about that.

So first off, what is curation? Curation means that it’s somebody else’s content, somebody else’s thought, and you share it with your followers. Now, sometimes if you’re on your blog, you might link to them, if you’re on Twitter, retweeting somebody else, that’s a form of curation, absolutely. Facebook, if you’re sharing somebody else’s link, that’s a form of curation.

Now, I have seen some very successful brands who are really good curators. They share other people’s content, they barely add their own commentary, they really just share it. And that’s great, and that’s interesting. And if you think about the Drudge Report for example, that’s all they do- they share other people’s content for the most part, I don’t think- I can’t remember any- time I’ve seen anything original on there, and people go there and read it. I remember back in the day when I was a newspaper reporter I had an article shared on the Drudge Report one time, and page views and number of visitors were just going through the roof. So, for them it works.

However, for a lot of organizations, curation is probably not the main thing to focus on. We want to focus on unique content. So what is it that we can offer that nobody else has said yet? Now, for those of you out there that want to plan every step of the way, that doesn’t mean we have to check every website in the world to find out if somebody else has already said something about this particular topic. Absolutely not- chances are, somebody else has had a similar point of view, but if it’s a personal experience, an organizational experience, chances are it’s probably unique. If we didn’t research too long, we might be close to somebody else’s perspective, and that’s okay. But think about our own unique stories, our own unique perspectives to a particular event.

So sometimes we might choose to respond to a national or global news event. For the most part, I wouldn’t recommend that for most organizations, and I would really recommend to just look at internal stories that can be shared externally, to help the brand be authentic and share something that’s educational. But every once in a while there’s something that needs to be shared or that there’s something to add to or something like that.

So let me give you an example. November 2014, there was a police shooting. There was a grand jury announcement that was made in Ferguson, Missouri, that after a police shooting there was going to be no indictment against the white police officer who had shot a black teenager to death. So there were protests around the nation, and at one of these protests in Portland, Oregon, actually a white police officer, a white police sergeant, hugged a black boy and somebody took a picture. The picture was on The Authentic Storytelling Project, and heartwarming story, community-minded story- it was really great to see the photo. So, as you may imagine, lots and lots of people talked about it. CNN wrote an article about it, other national outlets wrote articles about it, the photographer was on national TV, his picture was in newspapers all around the world.

But guess what? So I wanted to write about it, but for The Authentic Storytelling Project, I shouldn’t write about what everybody else is writing about. So I had to find a unique angle that had something to do with what my site is about, something my site talks about. We talk about authentic storytelling: how do you do it, why do you do it, what’s working, what’s not working, what’s the latest tip, what’s the latest trend- anything related to storytelling, AKA, content marketing. We call it authentic storytelling here because it’s a little different, but same thing, in essence.

So, I reached out to the photographer and asked if I could use the photo, and he said, “Absolutely. Thanks for asking.” There was no interview, there was nothing else. We emailed a few times, you know, I shared some things, he shared some things, but there was no interview. I didn’t ask him everything else that everybody else has already asked him. What I did, I linked to the other content. So the things he’s already said to CNN, I linked to CNN, and I said, “According to the CNN article, he said, ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,’ and then according to another article in some other outlet, here’s what his mom said, ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,’” and I linked to them.

Now, I didn’t copy and paste the whole article (that would be plagiarism), but I took a little excerpt and I commented on it. Commentary- yes, we always have to be careful with copyright, but commentary, satire, those kinds of things, they are a little bit more protected. You still don’t want to copy and paste entire articles, but it’s certainly okay to have a quick quote and then link back to the article. Absolutely- I don’t think anybody would have any problem with that. They would probably appreciate the link and the mention.

But, when I was a newspaper reporter and the early 2000s, that is not how I would have done it. I would have called him and asked all the same questions, and get all the same answers, and then I would have quoted him on my site, in my article. What’s so different about that? Instead, today, I’m curating all the other content that’s not the main piece of my unique piece of the story, and I link to that, and I say, “Here’s what happened there, here’s what happened there, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, here’s what this outlet is saying, here’s what this outlet is saying,” and I go from there, and I’m curating the stuff that is not the centerpiece of what I want to talk about. And then in my article, I talk about how pictures are worth a thousand words, but pictures (and a couple hundred other actual words) really can flush out this story. So it’s, it was a good photo, but guess what? The story was much more powerful once we heard from the mom, once we heard from the photographer, once we heard from other people around there. So that’s what makes stories powerful.

So I list three key takeaways. The importance of content gathering, storytelling, visuals, images and the written word. So those were the things that were somewhat unique to my project, The Authentic Storytelling Project. The other things, everybody else had. So, I curated when it was the common thing, and then I came up with the unique content when it came to my specialty. So that’s the idea. It’s okay to curate, but if you’re just going to link, and link, and link and don’t have anything else to say, have nothing unique to share, how are you going to establish yourself as any kind of authority on any subject? Now, why do you want to be an authority? So people come read you. The more search engines rank you as authority, as an expert, the easier it will be for people to find you.

Christoph Trappe here with The Authentic Storytelling Project. Thanks for listening.

Transcript provided by Ink – Professional Writing and Editing by Mariah Obiedzinski