Cross-pollinating content: Where will it take us?


pollinationDuring my school days, an elderly biology teacher taught us cross-pollination in  simple terms. Today, it’s interesting to see how content gets cross-pollinated across multiple platforms.

By definition, cross-pollination of content is very simple. We dust  pollen off, in this case, words into every conceivable content platform we can. Our craze for repurposing has led us to rewrite less. Instead, we spend more time identifying keywords for search engine optimization. As content gets monetized, we forget ideas that really impact the bottom line. What do consumers want?

In our hasty bid to create, market and cross-pollinate content, we sacrifice authenticity for choice words . We engage in a mechanical, thesaurus hunting expedition sacrificing creativity. We look for platforms to cross-pollinate content and forget, to quote William Zinsser that rewriting is harder than writing. Are we creating content that provides a new user experience, adds value and moves an individual’s decision-making process?

Research from Hubspot says that adding 15 new pieces of content will increase traffic on your site five times more. Great! But is that traffic relevant? At a recent seminar, content marketer Arne Keunn  gave out some statistics showing the growing power of sharing content online. Here are a few observations: 93% of people use search before making purchases, 86% of search is for non-branded items, 90% click on organic clicks versus sponsored advertisements.

According to renowned writing coach, Ann Wylie, marketers should be “attention creators,” not just content creators. Once you know what your customers want, develop content that is easy, intuitive and usable. Think strategically about cross-pollinating content across different platforms so that in every medium you become an attention creator. Optimize content for your audience, your audiences’ devices and promote it through your website. Make it fresh every week. Today, marketing begins and ends here.

Writing for page views: Tips from Steve Rubel


As a young copy editor working for New Delhi-based Patriot two decades ago, I never imagined a day when machines would take over the unique powers of a copy editor. We ruled over reporters, decided content and our headlines woke readers up every morning.

Fast forward twenty years- journalists write for machines that give overrides to word choices and remind them that some words get better page views. These translate into  greater job security and a better bottomline.  Machines select  headlines, insert slugs and feed searches that attract readers. Writers are told to use the word fashion instead of style as search engines rank fashion higher.

Amid this changing media landscape, hearing  Steve Rubel last week was refreshing. Rubel is EVP, Global Strategy for Edelman, the world’s largest independent PR company. He was speaking at my alma mater, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications.

According to Rubel, thankfully, three things still exist:

  1. Our time and attention are finite
  2. We love good stories- stories bind us as a culture
  3. Content is king

Rubel introduced Edelman’s new concept named “Transmedia Storytelling: The Media Cloverleaf” that will help PR practitioners keep stories alive for a longer time.  This is an inter-connected model that involves traditional media, hybrid, social media and company-owned media. According to Rubel, it is now an Anglo model being used in the U.S. and some parts of Europe. However,  some of its concepts are applicable in other geographies too. 

Rubel asks practitioners to create content that is visual and worth sharing and video, infographics and slideshows are very important. Writing needs a lot of advanced planning these days. So, before crafting a story, find out how, where and when the story should be told. Here’s a PowerPoint that describes key points from Rubel’s talk.