Quartz executive director EMEA Simon Davies shares six pieces of advice for brands looking to create authentic, engaging content.
The World Media Group (WMG) last week staged its annual International Digital Comms Forum 2015 at the News Building in London, home to The Wall Street Journal.
Speakers such as The New York Times director, T Brand Studio International, Kaylee King-Balentine and Shell global head of social Americo Campos Silva were invited to discuss the future of ‘custom content’, and the future of ‘engaging with millennials’.
Addressing the challenge of creating authentic, engaging native content, Simon Davies, executive director EMEA at Quartz – WMG’s newest member – told attendees he had quizzed his editorial team for their advice.
The first piece of advice is to “find the ‘thing’”, namely the hook on which to hang the content. “They find a story, they tell a narrative. It can be an image, a quote, more often with us it is data,” said Davies.
Secondly, brands should “avoid the muddle in the middle”. According to Davies, short news stories are popular with readers, and articles over 2,000 or 3,000 words in length are consistently Quartz’s best-performing pieces of content, but “what goes to die is the stuff in the middle”.
For his third piece of advice – “you don’t need words to tell a story” – Davies was amusingly interrupted by a passing display of the Red Arrows aerobatic display teams, demonstrating his point remarkably well.
The fourth recommendation was to find a “local hook with a global appeal”, and that, with correct treatment, content which specifically addresses a single market can have a far broader international appeal.
Brands should be wary of the fast-moving nature of content online, and that they should ask themselves, “why this story and not another?” before publishing.
Finally, Davies urged delegates “don’t be rude”, addressing the issues around user experience, and called on brands to treat mobile channels carefully: “Digital means mobile now, whether brand or publisher. And it is a very personal relationship. Don’t invade their personal space.”