Start-Ups, Credibility & Content Syndication
With the explosion of digital content, the news business has been in a state of chaos for quite some time. Entrepreneurs understand – and profit from – the adage “in the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” Out of the chaos of the news business comes an opportunity for entrepreneurs to gain visibility and build awareness for their business and startups: content syndication.
The emerging opportunity of content syndication
Today, with so much industry consolidation in the Fourth Estate, there are fewer reporters covering the news. According to Pew Research Center, newsroom employment at U.S. newspapers dropped by 51% between 2008 and 2019. With the downsizing of newsroom staff, publishers have an increasing need for reliable copy to supplement news sites beyond what their small team of reporters can provide. That means they’re hungry for high-quality, ready-to-use content from trusted sources.
Enter content syndication: publishing a sponsored feature news article that gets aggregated and distributed across multiple news sites. Story sponsors like it because it gets their message and their business/brand in front of millions of consumers across the country via the news sites they read and trust. Newspapers and news outlets like syndicated content because it helps them provide fresh information to their readers and it expands the content they offer – at no cost and no use of newsroom resources. It’s a win-win that offers a real advantage to entrepreneurs and startups in terms of costs, credibility, thought leadership, customer engagement and more.
Cost advantages of content syndication
At the intersection of paid media (advertising) and earned media (PR), content syndication is an ideal fit for a common issue that startups face: a lack of funds for PR and advertising campaigns but a need for the visibility both can provide. Working with a syndicated content provider, a startup’s brand/campaign messages get woven into informative, engaging articles that look, feel and read like a real news story, blending in seamlessly with the news sites the articles are syndicated through
There is no purchasing of ad space. There is no need to design high-resolution ad art files, nor is there a need to employ an expensive public relations agency to “pitch” media to cover your business. Syndicated articles are guaranteed to run on all outlets that subscribe to the chosen syndication source. (If your content marketing partner does not guarantee placement on its syndication network, find another vendor!) Some content syndicators have partnered with hundreds of media outlets, others syndicate to thousands.
Regardless of which content syndication partner is selected, startups will benefit from the opportunity to have their stories placed on local newspaper sites, reaching millions of potential readers for far less than the price of an ad or PR pitch. It’s one of the most viable options for startups looking for an effective way to gain exposure, secure backlinks and give their credibility a boost at a highly cost-effective price point.
Credibility boost with the halo effect of content syndication
A key upside of content syndication is the credibility of having stories about your startup featured on news sites across the country. Your messages appear in a news article format on hundreds, if not thousands, of local news sites that consumers read and rely on. The result is a halo effect of credibility from your story appearing in article format rather than traditional ad format. (For many, online banner and pop-up ads these days can be the emotional equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard!)
Motivate stakeholders with content syndication
News coverage impresses investors and customers. Local news coverage on hometown and regional news sites excites employees and mobilizes sales teams. You can leverage your syndicated stories in some creative ways to take advantage of this excitement.
You can create a portfolio of story “pick-ups” in local papers of interest and then forward them, frame them or share them on social media. These stories are great door openers and conversation starters for startups. For example:
Send them to potential investors (imagine someone in Boston seeing a screengrab of your article syndicated on the Boston Herald site!)
Share them with your customer in, let’s say Minnesota, where your article ran in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Or, display your article from a site like Investor Business Times in your lobby and conference rooms.
Establish thought leadership with the help of content marketing
While many businesses use content syndication and content marketing to promote brands and drive sales, there is a unique opportunity to leverage content syndication for thought leadership as well. For example, develop and syndicate a bylined article from a member of your leadership team addressing a key issue in your space. Better yet, address a series of key issues through a series of month articles. This can enable you to address industry issues, stating your unique position and value to the industry without editorial interference and with guaranteed placement.
Harnesses the power of stories, the way you want to tell them
Syndicated articles enable startups to personalize and engage readers through stories. Good feature news articles not only share information, they tell a story. A syndicated article can tell the story of your founding, or your product’s value and impact through a customer’s eyes. Focus on the issues and problems you aim to solve.
No matter what message you choose, syndicated content articles help humanize and personalize your startup to readers in a genuine, authentic way that traditional advertising generally does not.
From the chaos of massive transitions in newsrooms has come the opportunity of content marketing and content syndication. For entrepreneurs looking to make the most of a chaotic situation, now is the time to put content marketing to work for your start-up.