The Podcast Masterclass on Slow Journalism

Listen to our interview with Rob Orchard, co-founder of Delayed Gratification magazine – and explore why the slow journalism movement matters to content marketing.

May 11, 2017

sophisticated marketers podcast

There’s a lot of discussion in B2B content marketing about “thinking like a journalist” or “thinking like a publisher” – but do all journalists and publishers really think the same way? The inspiration that you take from writers and editors will be very different depending on which writers and editors you choose. Rob Orchard is definitely an editor worth choosing.

For my money there are few more inspiring figures in journalism right now than Rob and his fellow founders of Delayed Gratification magazine – and there are few more distinct and valuable perspectives on content than the slow journalism movement they champion. Rob is the guest on the latest episode of The Sophisticated Marketer’s Podcast. Of all the shows that we’ve recorded so far, it’s one of my favourites, and if you have anything whatsoever to do with content marketing strategy, I urge you to listen to it. Scroll down and you’ll find the link.

What is slow journalism?
In the same way that slow food is a response to the growth of fast food; slow journalism is a response to increasingly real-time news, comment and analysis. Both are built on the central conviction that slowing something down and taking time over it is the essential first step towards making it better. Having just typed that sentence it seems bizarre to me that we actually need movements to point out something that was intuitively obvious only half a generation ago. However, as Rob explains on our podcast, there are fewer and fewer incentives for today’s journalists to invest time in what they do.

Part of this comes down to numbers: journalists are asked to fill more pages for less money and with less time available. That means it makes less and less commercial sense to spend time thinking, investigating and developing an alternative perspective on things. What’s more, audiences’ constant demand for real-time updates has overturned the value system in content. As Rob explains, you’re now rewarded for being first, not being right. In fact, it almost doesn’t matter if you report something that turns out to be wrong, provided you got it wrong first.

How Delayed Gratification turns the clock back – and slows it down
Delayed Gratification
is the magazine that Rob and his team launched to try and tilt the balance back towards a different kind of reporting. It takes the world three months at a time, compressing the key events of the previous quarter down to 120 pages, with the time and space to work out what’s really going on, speak to people in the know, and get as close as possible to the truth of things. As Rob says, it’s either very slow journalism or very fast history. It’s a beautiful piece of printed content that I’d urge anyone to subscribe to – and it’s also a great story of how a group of people who value quality in content found a way to make it happen.

Click on the link below to hear the podcast in full – and hear Rob tell the story of Delayed Gratification and why slow journalism matters. You’ll discover the challenges of launching a magazine that deliberately swims against the prevailing tide – and you’ll hear some of the best and most intriguing stories that Rob and company have told so far. Scroll down a bit further, and you’ll find my take on why slow journalism is a concept that B2B content marketers need to embrace – and the lessons from Rob’s story that we can all apply to content strategy.

So why should content marketers be taking an interest in slow journalism? Here are five principles from Rob’s approach that we could all benefit from applying:

Authority isn’t a race
Just because lots of other brands and businesses are already publishing content around an issue doesn’t mean that you have to avoid it and find something else to talk about. The principle that being right is more important than being first underpins the slow journalism approach – and it’s equally applicable to content marketing. Focus on the subjects that are most important, and the questions that your audiences are asking. Then focus on giving the definitive answer to those questions, drawing on all available information to give a better sense of perspective. In-depth pieces that leverage a range of relevant sources, and aim to make sense of the range of views and opinions out there, establish far greater authority – and rank far higher in search results.

Don’t just deliver content – package it like you value it
Delayed Gratification
isn’t just a monthly collection of content, it’s a printed magazine – and Rob and his team have made that format an essential part of its identity. They don’t just use print as a means of putting words in front of subscribers like me; they make a celebration of print an essential part of the reading experience. This is a magazine that looks and smells beautiful. It arrives in a futuristic, cutting-edge package that’s designed to give you the same sense of excitement you once got from opening an Apple Mac laptop. The spines of the issues are even designed to create a cool pattern when they’re arranged in chronological order on your book-shelf.

Format is often the forgotten factor in content marketing. It’s one that you can leverage to deliver an experience for your audience and signal the value of the content itself. That’s why the team at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions spend time experimenting with different cover art for content marketing assets – and why we carry out photo shoots to provide us with alternatives to the standard, over-used stock photographs. Audiences respond when you package content in a way that shows you value what’s inside.

Perspective involves light and shade
An in-depth digest of the last three months would feel like pretty heavy going if you were wading through one long piece of reportage after another. Delayed Gratification works so well because of the way that it varies the pace of content. Beautifully shot photo essays are mixed in with shorter pieces of content, infographics and very funny single-page features. As Rob explained to me, one of the biggest challenges in putting the magazine together is respecting the different rules his team have given themselves to avoid being repetitive: they won’t follow one downbeat feature with another, they vary short and long, but they also make an effort to arrange everything in chronological order. It’s a complex jigsaw puzzle – but the results are worth it.

Sound familiar? That’s because that all-important mix of styles and formats is exactly the type of content strategy that can drive engagement and effectiveness for a blog, and generate a loyal, owned audience for your content marketing assets.

You can be slow and very funny
One of the surprising things about slow journalism as a concept is just how funny it can often be. I love Delayed Gratification features like ‘Evil Stick Man’, a machiavellian figure who demonstrates to readers how to rig elections, make money from fake news and generally bend the system to his corrupt will. It shows how, even when journalism has a serious message at its heart, humour is a powerful means of getting that message across. That’s why all B2B content marketers should try to be funny every now and then.

Present deep information visually
Delayed Gratification
is famous for its Infographics – so much so that it runs Infographic classes for other publishers and interested content marketers, which tend to sell out very quickly. I’d recommend trying to get a place on one. The Infographics in the magazine are a masterclass in condensing in-depth information into a format that’s visual, engaging, and far more than just a collection of data with associated illustrations. A great infographic expresses the connections and relationships between different pieces of information – it communicates ideas, not just numbers. And as successful B2B content marketers know, it’s a fantastic opportunity to establish authority, drive engagement – and encourage sharing.

If I’ve whetted your appetite for slow journalism, then why not try a subscription to Delayed Gratification? You can sign up here – and I definitely recommend going for the full printed package rather than just the digital version.

If you’re just discovering us, you can catch up on all the previous episodes of the Sophisticated Marketer’s Podcast here. And if you subscribe to the podcast, you’ll never miss an episode. Thanks for tuning in!

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