RIP the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. Icon, legend, superstar; there aren’t enough superlatives to describe this remarkable woman.
I always wince when businesses piggyback celebrity deaths to make a point about marketing. The thousands of ‘What David Bowie taught us about Inbound Marketing’ articles made me shudder. HOWEVER, Franklin exemplifies what I was going to talk about today anyway, so forgive me.
I hope this is tastefully done.
Franklin transcended music. She wrote incredible songs, of course, but she wrote anthems for feminist movements, and for civil rights. She sang at Dr. Martin Luther King’s funeral; she sang at Obama’s inauguration (and I urge you to watch both of those performances immediately.) She was an activist. Music was her medium, but her mission and purpose went far deeper than that.
Similarly, the best news organisations aspire to something higher than simply reporting. The Economist’s stated goal, for example, is “To take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.” They’ve chosen their medium – long-form articles – but have a higher goal at stake.
Content-wise, one of my favourite editorial manifestos is that of First Round Review:
“We believe that there is powerful, untapped knowledge out there that can transform the way people build technology.
There's just one problem: It's trapped in other people's heads — people who are at the top of their fields, who rarely have time to share what they've learned (even when they want to). The Review is about liberating this knowledge to inspire and accelerate action.”
In this case, the blog is the medium, but the pursuit of knowledge-sharing and the investigation of excellence is paramount to everything First Round Review does.
You’re not Aretha Franklin or the Economist, but you do need a purpose to hang your hat on in the same way. If you find yourself writing/publishing blogs week on week but you have no idea what your editorial standpoint is, take a step back and work on it.
This isn’t easy. Your standpoint must align with your company values. It must be attuned to your customer’s needs, for which you need in-depth persona research, and it has to marry up with your culture.
You have to live and breathe this standpoint – this manifesto – in every bit of work you do. You have to be sure it means something to you, to the agencies that work with you, and to your audience too. You have to believe it. It has to be authentic.
And when it comes to authenticity, who better to learn from than the best?