What can marketers learn from journalism’s pain?


If you’re a reporter, it’s no fun if your story runs after your peers or rivals have run theirs. It wasn’t fun in the days of print, either, but on the web, it’s worse. Online readers can bounce around from site to site. Readers think articles which read “too similar” are fishy and that’s bad for the publication and career suicide for the writer.

And then there’s Google’s Panda algorithm, which presents a related challenge. Instead of a person hopping over to read someone else’s article on a rival site, Panda will actually cause you digital grief if what you wrote is too similar to already-indexed articles. While Panda’s not really a concern if you’re writing 100% original material, it’s just plain better to be first. True then, true now.

Carol Tice, Forbes writer and online entrepreneur said, “Being first is the sign of authority. Exclusivity is always highly valued, as it conveys authority and builds readership. Scoops were obviously important in the past. Scoops sell papers, make papers stand out, and help retain paying subscribers.”

What pitfalls are there for marketers or journalists in the race to be first?

Being first should take a backseat to being accurate, and the issue of source credibility can get dicier if you venture too far from what’s reported on “major” sites, whether that’s Moz, or the Chicago Tribune.

When marketers get things wrong, rushing and rumors are usually to blame. When the journalism world gets it wrong, the reasons are similar, but messier. While social has added a rapid, complex layer to modern reporting, marketing communities and the public still deserve accurate facts. Just as people have reputations, so do publications. When a publication runs too many “Corrections”, it’s a turn-off.You can look like “the worst” if you rush to “be first.”

Written By: Alex Yong is a general assignments and events reporter for Small Business Trends and a friend to PR agencies. He reports on announcements from corporations like Facebook, Paychex, IHS, and Acer. Alex was named an influencer and PR resource in Cision North America’s list of the top 50 Twitter accounts utilizing rich media in January 2015 along with Ann Smarty, Lee Odden, Guy Kawasaki, Michael Stelzner and Gini Dietrich.

Alex’s “hobby blog” focuses on tech trends. He is also a LinkedIn blogger and a guest on shows and columns like ProfNet. Alex can be reached on Skype at YHSmanhattan

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  1. Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing

    I have to disagree, Alex — being accurate should never take a backseat to being first. The key is to simply state what you don’t know at the time of press and publish. Then, write an update post later.

    If you don’t know, say it isn’t know yet. As in, “Joe was not available for comment this morning.” Don’t speculate.

    And if it’s already on Moz or in the Trib, you’re not first. ;-)

  2. Alex Yong

    Hi Carol. Yes, I see your point.

    I also meant to say rushing to be “one of the first”, and doing a lackluster job of it, to boot. Marketers often rely on each other for news because not every marketer has fast access to a superb source, unless they’ve got existing connections (or make some via PubCon, SXSW, or similar conferences. Many marketers can’t afford the money or travel commitments).

    I feel if marketers are sharing inaccurate info that’s “inbred” in a rush to be one of the first, it ends up messy, overall, especially when you consider how marketers share. It’s a judgment call I suppose.


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