Voronezh State University continues a series of lectures by representatives of Russian information TV channel Russia Today. On 23 May, General Director’s IT Councillor, Tina Berezhnaya, visited our university for the second time.
This time she gave a talk about content strategy.
‘My profession is at the intersection of such disciplines as Journalism and Information Technologies. And my speciality is content strategy. Content includes text, all types of images, placement, and design. It should be noted that content and journalism are two absolutely different things. Journalism involves various costs which are normally paid for by the content’ Tina Berezhnaya said as she started her lecture.
Content is not a new thing
It quite often happens that the main reason why people buy newspapers is for the TV guides and horoscopes. Today many famous brands, for example, Nike, use content to attract attention to their products – they create computer games or organise sport events. For many, media advertising is the only source of income. Therefore, to enhance its efficiency it should be represented in the content.
As the Internet was developing, more and more bad content with poor grammar started to appear. To make content more efficient, it should be organised, targeted, systematic, and suitable for both the consumer and its producer. It is very important to classify its audience and produce things that it will be eager to read, watch, and consume.
Content as a strategy
The specialist who develops a content strategy should understand its consumers and their needs. Different search engines provide different possibilities, that is why different search engines require different content. It should be efficient, necessary, sufficient, complete, and universal at performing the set task. Before the specialist starts creating content, they should conduct an audit of all information platforms, and describe the specifications for each of them. It is also very important to consider the amount of time a consumer is ready to spend reading your materials. You have to know everything about your audience: what social networks does it use, what news does it read, and how does it consume content? It is very important to constantly analyse your content, evaluate its quality and its appropriateness. You should not also forget about the cultural peculiarities of a region. The main imperfection of any content is when it has no particular aim. You have to create stories which the audience will find interesting and to do so you need a content strategy. Using collected analytical data you develop a comprehensive content strategy that considers all elements – the language, the style, content channels, and content location regulations.
A good journalist can make a good content strategist because they can deal with a lot of information or work in a situation when there is not enough information, they know what it is like to work under the pressure of deadlines, they can tell stories using various instruments, and make a story out of nothing. Journalists have to know SEO, SMM, UX/UI – it is enough to create a basic content strategy.’
Pondering the information provided by the lecturer, the audience asked the speaker more questions:
‘When you develop a content strategy it happens quite often that you need to use mathematical models to analyse the audience. What is more, you need to create your own search engines and the existing ones need to be developed. It involves activities that cannot be implemented by a journalist. Don’t you think that mathematicians, information technology and search engine specialists have to be engaged in the process of creating a content strategy?’
‘Today humanities tend to appeal to hard sciences and hard sciences have become an integral part of humanities. And this is the right thing. That is why I insist that today a journalist has to know SEO, SMM, UX\UI. It is enough to develop basic strategies. As for large mathematical data, functional search engines have already been created and we only need to learn how to use them efficiently, for example how to read Google Analytics and Yandex.Metrics.’
‘How do you deal with the problem of the predominance of special effects and form over meaning?’
‘RT specialises in news stories and special effects are characteristic of one-time-projects that we sometimes create to indulge our reader. What is more, we know which instruments to use to avoid spending to much time on them. There is no point in trying to keep the audience constantly amazed – it will tire them out.’
‘Have the methodologies of TV journalists changed because of the need to adapt to various platforms: Broadcast TV, social networks and so on?’
‘When our reporters go somewhere and see something interesting happening around, they takes their mobile phones and start shooting – it is a reflex. We use any devices for shooting, and only later the editorial board decides what material is appropriate for posting on the Internet and what can be broadcast. Additionally, our staff on field trips normally present their reports on Twitter. As a rule, they have a lot of subscribers, and quite often the audience learns about the news by reading the Twitter posts of our reporters.’
‘What content strategy recommendations could you give to our university?’
‘A large university has several different and rarely overlapping audiences – academic staff, prospective students, students - both master’s and bachelor’s. It means that you have to develop four different strategies and you have to start with a lot of analysis and research into the audience.’