Dec 13, 2012

What is Quality Content?

Content-is-King-1-300x169Virtually every discussion of modern public relations and marketing practice will at some point refer to the importance of quality content.  It is the absolute baseline for brand publishing, content marketing, social media messaging and just about any other way that an organization communicates.

The need for quality applies across the board whether the content you are producing is called a press release or a white paper, sponsored content or a blog post.

Quality transcends category.

But what exactly is quality content?  Often that question is answered by what it is not:

  • It’s not spam.
  • It’s not jargon.
  • It’s not solicitous.
  • It’s not laced with tricks to attract search engine algorithms.

The don’ts are easier to point out than the do’s.

If we’re going to define what constitutes quality, let’s start at the simplest level.  Quality content is well written.  That means it’s concise, clear and grammatically correct.  I can’t recall reading anything that was so brilliant I could overlook the typos, mismatched tense and run-on sentences.

Secondly, quality content is honest.  It is honest about what it is and who is writing it.  If it is sponsored content, that is made clear, as is the author or authoring organization.  If someone else’s ideas or someone else’s research is referenced, that too is appropriately attributed.

Beyond that it gets a lot more subjective.

The Google Webmaster Blog talks about “unique, valuable, engaging.”  Other attributes that are cited by various Web authors include useful, relevant, well-researched, credible, and easy to read.

I suggest that good quality content has to be either interesting or informative.  Entertain or educate.  Great quality content does both.

There are many ways to be interesting.  For example, your content can be funny.  Photos and videos can be interesting in ways that are hard to replicate solely with blocks of text.  Great writing, especially if it is in a style and tone that is unique to the author, can in itself be interesting.

Content can be informative to a very broad audience, such as when NASA discusses some new information about the nature of neighboring planets, or to a very small audience, such as information about an innovation in industrial design.   Quality content doesn’t have to be brilliantly original, never-before-heard wisdom.  It can add context or insight to information that is otherwise widely known.  But it has to add to the conversation.

How good is your content?  Try asking yourself whether it is the kind of stuff that you would be interested in reading and why.  If your answer is affirmative, you’re on the right track.

Author Ken Dowell is PR Newswire’s executive vice president of social media & audience development.

Does your content need some fine-tuning?  We have some resources that can help:

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