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This article was published on April 22, 2012

CSGT: The Holy Grail of content marketing?

CSGT: The Holy Grail of content marketing?

Late last year, marketing strategist David Meerman Scott released an absolute must-read book titled Newsjacking: How to Inject your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. In this e-book, David outlines a brilliant new PR strategy that involves taking advantage of happening news items, be it general news, or within your specific niche.

He skillfully lays out a plan whereby alert and clever marketers can take full advantage of trending stories and insert their own message into the news cycle, with the end goal of driving more traffic, brand awareness, etc. to their organization. He argues that by reacting quickly and presenting a blog post, social media output, or media alert that focuses on the hot keyword-du-jour, you could be rewarded with a landslide of media attention.

This got me to thinking. Other than the questions of time and speed, what’s the difference between newsjacking and content marketing creation? The way I see it, not much, as both are designed to focus on industry relevant topics and expand upon them while positioning your organization in a positive light, and providing added value to consumers. So, if we take the premises offered up in Newsjacking and apply them to our content marketing strategy, well…let’s watch the traffic magic happen!

David offers up a number of solutions for staying on top of what’s currently hot, which involves a method I’d bet most of us are already utilizing; monitoring keywords and phrases, tracking journalists and media outlets, setting up and following Twitter hashtags, Google Alerts, etc. This is all fine and dandy, but let’s face it, this can be rather time, and resource consuming. While searching for a faster, more efficient method of real time tracking of hot topics related to an industry, I happened to come across’s content strategy generator tool.

Content Strategy Generator Tool (CSGT)

At its core, the content strategy generator tool is nothing more than a Google Docs spreadsheet. But oh, is it so much more! Instead of the various 5, 10, 15 sources you might be monitoring on any given day, the tool’s author Daniel Butler utilizes the power of importing XML for Google Docs and lays out a comprehensive search and results grid for any keyword or series of keywords of your choosing.

The tool is broken down into specific key areas:

  • The latest news & discussions
  • What content is being shared?
  • What questions are being asked?
  • Content aggregators

For the latest news and discussions section, the tool searches and delivers up to the minute results from Google Discussions, Google News, and Bing news. Shared content sources arrive via Digg, Reddit, YouTube, Topsy’s latest tweets and latest top trending tweets, Twittorati, and All Things Now. Questions come from Yahoo Answers, Wiki Answers, and How Stuff Works. Content aggregators are pulled from an overall blog catalog, Fark, Redux, Helium, and Cracked. Needless to say, that’s a pretty hefty collection of sources and just about every outlet you need to stay on top of what’s what.

Now granted, this tool is a match made in heaven for newsjacking, and you might be wondering how this can help you with your long term content creation process? The way I see it, this tool can serve two purposes in one. By running the tool throughout the day, you’re well equipped to be the top of the social media charts with up-to-the-minute information about your industry specific keywords, allowing you to quickly react to breaking news, all with cross references waiting at your fingertips.

The second purpose that suits the CSGT quite nicely, and perhaps more appropriate for content marketing, is viewing the long-term trending data. Personally, I found the Yahoo Answers, How Stuff Works, and Google Insights resources to be the best for this purpose. Keep this tool open throughout the week and take a few notes on what questions keep reoccurring. Is this something that your organization could answer? Better yet, can you position your organization as the thought leader on this topic? Perhaps it’s time to really dig into that “How to XZY… using Our Product” content series you’ve been putting off. If people are asking about it, there’s obviously a need for the content. You might not be the first to answer the question, but you can be the best!

Similarly, if there’s a trending news topic or topics tied to your specific keyword that are occurring repeatedly over the course of a few days, there’s no need to craft a 10,000 word masterpiece. Simply put your thoughts together, relate these thoughts to a specific solution your organization offers, and get it to the blog!

Down the Line

So far, the CSGT has helped us stay on top of the most up to the minute news, what the top shared items are, questions related to your keyword(s), and most recent postings from around the web all within one easy to comprehend format. And while content creation and publication can always benefit your organization, chances are, if you want to spread that message as far and as wide as possible, you’re going to need a little help.

Obviously, Butler was thinking the same, as in both the original and recently updated version, the CSGT has a second sheet at the very bottom titled “Source and Place.” Perhaps not the most aptly titled, but to call this “other” sheet anything less than amazing would be selling it short. What Butler has done with the “Source and Place” sheet is culled detailed information from Topsy related to top Tweeters in relation to your specific keywords. Just like the “Ideas” tab, the spreadsheet breaks down the number of times this tweeter has mentioned your keywords, how many followers they have, and their Twitter profile description. With the testing that I did, I’d guestimate that 80% of the experts that appeared in the spreadsheet included one form of contact details or another (Hint, hint…include your contact details in your profile!).

This contact list information alone should be enough to get you thinking about the outreach section of your content strategy, but the CSGT goes even one step further in v2 by utilizing Follower Wonk’s Twitter analytics features to segment out those that include the words “blog (blogger)” and “editor”. Needless to say, within one simple spreadsheet you now have a detailed list of experts related to your keyword search, AND a segmented list of influential bloggers and/or online media publication editors. Can you say wow? I can!

Is the CGST the Holy Grail for marketers? Not quite, as there a few sources and features missing, but Butler is very up front about this, and after doing a bit new of reverse engineering (it’s really not that hard), I managed to insert a few fresh fields that opened up an entirely avenue of content exploration.

In the brief time that I’ve been using the CGST, I’ve quickly found it to be my go-to, first-thing-in-the-morning source. For freelancers, this is the fastest way I know of that can get you up to speed in a new industry, all the while providing you with a details outreach list. For in-house pros, I challenge you to put your “normal” monitoring system on hold, if only for a day, and see what the CGST can do for you. Chances are, there are a few content sources or outlets that you might have overlooked, and a few experts that might have been below your radar.

Access the Content Strategy Generator Tool directly via Google Docs here.