How to never run out of content: teach the news

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If you’re struggling with a content marketing strategy, if you’re struggling to put together something that your brand can be known for, the simplest, most effective fallback is to teach the news.

Yesterday, I was doing some work on a financial aid company’s account. Few things are as bewildering or poorly explained as the process of paying for college. The converse of this quandary is that the opportunity to explain it, any part of it, is a limitless well you can draw from if you teach people how the system works, especially as news occurs.

For example, in the financial aid world, the Department of Education publishes an enormous amount of information and news every day that you can draw from and teach. Four days ago as of this writing, they published this announcement:

In Dear Colleague Letter GEN-12-01, posted on January 18, 2012, we provided information on the provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (Public Law 112-74) that impacted the federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). One of those provisions limited, effective with the 2012-2013 award year, the duration of a student’s eligibility to receive a Federal Pell Grant to 12 semesters (or its equivalent) [see HEA section 401(c)(5)]

That little tidbit of legislative news has an enormous impact on millions of students and can provide several days’ worth of content, commentary, and more. What does it mean? Congress restricted the amount of time you can use a Pell Grant to 12 semesters (on the premise that if you can’t graduate from college as a full time student in 6 years, something is wrong). What are the implications? How does this impact part-time students? If you read into the details of the announcement, there are so many operational portions and examples that you could turn this one announcement into a week-long series all by itself.

This is why it’s impossible to run out of content on nearly any topic that you’re expert in. Read the news, figure out what it means, and teach to it. It’s an advanced form of newsjacking – instead of just being witty or clever (and often failing at it), try teaching the news and what the impact will be on your customers and prospects. They’ll thank you for your expert interpretation and increase your credibility in their eyes.

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