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Newsworthy and Niche: When Should You Cover Breaking News on Your Blog?

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Newsworthy and Niche: When Should You Cover Breaking News on Your Blog?

Tara M. Clapper
Newsworthy and Niche: When Should You Cover Breaking News on Your Blog?

Capitalizing on breaking news and other trending topics is usually a gamble for a small brand or niche. How can you determine whether it's right for your online niche publication or website?

Make the best use out of your time and resources when it comes to newsworthy topics using this process to determine whether a particular piece of trendy content is worth your time.

Niche, Newsworthy and New

Like many online content writers, I had a stint with, which recently announced it will close on or around July 10, 2016. Examiner was a content platform in some ways similar to Demand Studios and Yahoo! Contributor Network: it was great for a while, but ultimately succumbed to the constant changes of user needs, digital advertising and Google itself.

When I started writing for Examiner, I saw it for what it was: a way to get paid writing about niche topics using standard SEO practices. There wasn't anything inherently evil in the search engine domination tactics though. In fact, Examiner worked for as long as it did in part because it enlisted people like me who knew their own niches.

Examiner was far from perfect, but to make any money there, you had to play by the rules. Examiner had a stringent selection process when it came to items that they would submit to Google News. News content had to be:

  • Fresh: developing in the last 48 hours
  • Relevant to your niche topic
  • Provide a new spin on a popular newsworthy topic

While Examiner is closing, their strategy for selecting newsworthy topics is extremely valuable to niche business and entertainment websites. 

Choosing Between Newsworthy Topics

Time, money, size of your staff: your resources are limited, and taking on a newsworthy topic is a bit of gamble. Even if it takes off, its likely only going to earn you attention in the short term.

When Facebook came out with its reactions and users could do more than 'like' posts for the first time, there were other things happening in the world of digital. Here on the SEMrush Blog, we focus on a variety of topics within digital marketing. 

I decided to focus on Facebook reactions because I could make a quick, personal post featuring examples. Everyone was starting to talk about how they felt about the reactions, but people weren't really sure how to use the 'angry' face. Instead of theorizing, I offered my experiences.

A Scenario: You Run a Website About Nerd Stuff...

Today's news in the geek world is another example of a would-be choice for an editor limited on time. What's more important to your niche – a black teen girl becoming the next Iron Man, dinosaurs covered in feathers or the Pokémon Go release?

Feathered DinosaurFeathered Dinosaur

Fast Analysis

As the editor of a site about women in geek culture, I should revisit two things:

These resources will give me a glance at the type of content my audience wants to see. Judging from this, I can tell that all three topics would appeal to my readers, but a new take on Riri as the next Iron Man is going to resonate with my audience best. 

The Response

Given these choices, I'd choose to blog about Iron Man, post an external news article about dinosaurs and recruit one of my games contributors to hop on Twitch or Facebook Live and stream the game on our channels.

Consider Microblogging

Alternately, if you want to get in on a newsworthy topic but aren't ready to commit your resources to it, consider the super short form: open a discussion on social media or on your own forums.

Community Resources and Engagement

Where is your audience? If you already operate within a niche, you are your best starting resource. You know where industry professionals hang out and you know what they're discussing. Check out these forums, groups and social media hubs to analyze:

  • What type of news most people discuss
  • What gets left out
  • Why some news topics or more appealing than others.

"Know who is currently reading your content, how they found it, and why it is important to them. Once you discover these points, you should be able to create an engaging content pipeline that can reach your niche's organic audience. You can also use this method to target influencers and potential company advocates," says Kathleen Burns, Community Manager at SEMrush. Burns recently implemented an SEMrush advocate hub program in June.

Using SEMrush and AnswerThePublic, you can further analyze the newsworthy topics that capture the attention of your niche audience. 

Join the WriterAccess Webinar

To learn more about how to harness AnswerThePublic and SEMrush to distill valuable newsworthy and evergreen content topics, sign up for my free webinar, hosted by Byron White of WriterAccess. On "How to Create Blog Posts Your Readers Really Want," we'll take a closer look at this process.

The webinar airs on Wed., July 13 at 1 p.m. ET. 

Like this post? Follow us on RSS and read more interesting posts:

Tara M. Clapper is Content Development Specialist at Express Writers and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture. Tara is a prolific content creator and an accomplished editor, having written and edited thousands of blog posts, small business websites, and other inbound marketing content through the course of her career. Tara enjoys blogging about SEO copywriting, content management, corporate culture, personal branding, networking and LinkedIn. She has over a decade of experience in digital publishing. Connect with her on Twitter @irishtara
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Mike Hodgdon
Great stuff Tara, thank you for sharing!!
Patrick Whalen
Topical news is always a hard consideration for content - it's great to have some items to consider when making a decision!
John Connolly
Great read, Tara.
Tara M. Clapper
John Connolly
Thank you!
I almost never do 'newsworthy' content in blog posts. I go for more evergreen material that can potentially get a featured snippet when someone asks Google a question. Plus, I feel like there's not a ton of top news in SEO, other than algorithm updates and such. Which we will usually cover, but normally after the fact to see what kind of shift there is in results.
Goran Mirkovic
Great stuff, Tara. Excited about the webinar.
Tara M. Clapper
Goran Mirkovic
Thanks, Goran! I appreciate the support.
David Sayce
Microblogging offer an easy alternative if you are late to the party, or not quite ready. I've seen first hand how some sites cover breaking news one week later, all too often this is down to a lack of preparation, or agreed sign off. It once took me 2 weeks to get sign off for a 'breaking news' article, even after all of the planning the final sign off took too long.

Once you are more than a day or maybe two into the news, I think instead of rushing to get an article out, it is best to then take your time final a new or personal angle, gather more details and then produce a more focused or detailed piece of content. The key is of course timing, finding the sweet spot between the initial rush and before it become forgotten.
Tara M. Clapper
David Sayce
David, thanks for your comment. Absolutely. A personal angle also allows readers time to assess their own feelings about the issue. I notice more personal stories about sensitive topics (like shootings in the U.S., for example) are often perceived as more sensitive and reflective if they come out a short time after the news coverage of the event. While it's not necessarily appropriate for most brands to write about this topic, the point remains: once the 'news story' is done, who cares? If the answer is your brand, people might see you more as part of their communities.
Spin dat content, I like the "Fast Analysis" though.

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