What can content marketers learn from Constructive News? Part 2: The true value of Constructive Content

What lessons can the content marketing world learn from Haagerup's approach to Constructive News?

In an earlier post I wrote of leading news broadcaster Ulrik Haagerup’s push to make the world of news more constructive by reporting stories in a way that can add constructively to the debate.

The worldwide interest in his campaign raises potentially important questions for content marketers. Namely, what lessons can the content marketing world learn from Haagerup’s approach? And can we write a definition of constructive content that would be practical and applicable in equal measure?

So, what exactly might constructive content look like? Well let’s start by setting some ground rules. Haagerup says constructive news must operate within the following parameters:

  • It must be inspiring
  • It must educate and engage
  • It must give perspective
  • It must be positive and give hope

Constructive content can and should follow those same guidelines. And none of them, taken in isolation, would give content marketers reason for concern. The question is: can a constructive content campaign follow all of them at the same time?

Let’s look at a, hugely successful, example of a recent content campaign to see if it ticks the ‘constructive’ box.

Take a look at Under Armour’s superb ‘Rule Yourself’ film with swimmer Michael Phelps.

Released in the run-up to the Rio Olympics it’s a stirring, insightful and challenging view of professional sport. Ask yourself: do you feel inspired, engaged and educated in equal measure? Do you get a view of Phelps’ approach from a different perspective? If you did then you’re not alone…

Creatively, ‘Rule Yourself’ asks the audience to consider the world of the athlete in a very different way. Not for Under Armour the standard fare of most ‘big ticket’ campaigns that are released prior to blue ribboned sporting events. No preening, glistening, strutting Cristiano Ronaldo. With Phelps we are not fed blatant hero worship. We are asked to admire. Instead of preening we get puking, cupping, pain and sacrifice. We get authenticity.

The proof, of course, is in the reaction of both the viewer (and the consumer). Just days into the summer Games, Phelps’ film had become the fifth most shared Olympic spot of all time. Even better news for Under Armour was some of the underlying data behind the audience reaction. What brand wouldn’t kill for an incredible 78% awareness from viewers that this was an Under Armour film?

What do we take away from successes like ‘Rule Yourself’? Arguably that inspiration, engagement and education all provide the audience with something that less grounded content doesn’t: value. For the 11 million viewers of the film, the time spent watching Phelps in his office was time well spent.

So here’s our definition of constructive content:

‘Constructive content rewards the audience for its investment. It represents a value proposition by paying a dividend on the time spent with the brand. That dividend comes in strict denominations: positivity, perspective, education and inspiration. Put all those together and you have constructive content.’

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