The following is a guest post from our friend and colleague, Jamie Lacey-Moreira of PressComm PR, LLC.
The amount of material in one issue of the New York Times contains more information than the average 17th century Englishman would have been exposed to in his or her lifetime, I recently read. The sheer volume of content in our everyday lives has caused a change in the basic transmission of information: far from having too little content, we are now bombarded with entirely too much.
How, then, do you sift through the overwhelming multitude of messages you are faced with each day to pick out what’s relevant? And then how do you leverage this information for both an effective content marketing program and other aspects of your business life? In other words, how do you become a trendspotter?
A trendspotter is someone who looks at his or her market or industry (e.g., Business, Politics, Fashion) and is able to identify – for lack of a better phrase – “What’s Hot, and What’s Not.” As someone who “trendspots” for my own public relations consulting firm as well as for clients whose interests span the health care sector, I’ve taken some basic steps to hone my trendspotting skills. Here are a few of them:
- The first law of trendspotting is narrow down your general fields of interest. For example, I look for news and trends based upon my field of work (PR/strategic communications) and the industry I work within (health care/life sciences). Efficiency increases when irrelevant content is eliminated; so, focus on what is really important to the industry you are involved in and don’t get distracted by the rest of the information bombarding you.
- The next step is to subscribe to emails from interest-related media outlets and/or trade organizations to receive the most up-to-date news and information within your field. For example, to find the latest trends in the health care and biotechnology industries, I subscribe to FierceBiotech and the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s BIO SmartBrief. Identify which news outlets, trade associations, and companies are producing and distributing the most relevant information in your field and then take advantage of their curating services! This is a simple step that allows you to stay informed without having to track down the material yourself.
- In the spirit of allowing content to come to you (as opposed to the other way around), use Google Alerts and Google Reader. Like curated news emails, these filter systems allow you to focus on pertinent topics, but they have the added bonus of providing you with insight from a greater variety of sources, such as blogs, articles, and press releases.
- Tracking relevant hashtags on Twitter is another method of aggregating germane information quickly with minimal effort. Check out Hashtags.org as a handy resource. For those of you who still “fear The Twitter,” a hashtag (or # symbol) is used to mark key words or topics in a Tweet. Anyone on Twitter can “label” or follow topics by using hashtags.
- Finally, engage your clients, network, and friends in a two-way dialogue. Don’t be afraid to pass along ideas, articles, and news bites that capture your attention and explain how these pieces of information may prove useful. According to Chris Frew of TechUSA, business development director for a scientific services company and founder of networking group BioBuzz, “Share what you gather from the five to ten minutes a day you take to trendspot. This info is great to use to break the ice at a networking event or to congratulate a client when you find evidence of his positive news within your horizon.” Encourage colleagues to do the same for you. Even in this world of digitized information, sometimes the shrewdest insights come from personal contacts.
It may seem ironic that it takes a concerted effort to make the process of compiling information easier. However, the rewards of becoming a trendspotter are great. By becoming more “in the know” about the right topics, not only will your content marketing strategy (or your clients’ strategy) improve, but you will benefit in all aspects of your professional life. The key is to recognize that being knowledgeable means finding quality information, not just a quantity of information – in essence, trendspotting.
Do you have steps to add? Are you willing to give these a try and share your results with us? I’d love to hear from you!