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The Transformation of Publishing

Digital media gives publishers greater access and channels to distribute content, but sharing that message, and standing out in the crowd, remains a challenge, says LinkedIn’s Nellie Chan.

Before the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press in the 1440s, human knowledge was notoriously hard to keep track of. Humanity’s insights were painstakingly copied into books by scribes, an expensive and time-intensive process. The printing press was to the Middle Ages what the Internet is to the modern age: revolutionary.

Our collective knowledge now lives in the digital nexus, flying from the furthest corners of the globe at lightning speed. Sharing our knowledge or opinions was once subject to a high monetary barrier. It was also a matter of access. In the traditional media landscape, limited space and connections often dictated whether your opinion would make it into the Sunday edition of the local paper. New media platforms on the other hand, are accessible to everyone with a computer, both as writers and readers.

As an example, when The New York Times published a piece on Amazon’s work culture, Amazon employee, Nick Ciubotariu, bristled at the portrayal. However, he was able to share his opinion with the world at large the very next day, no column in a mainstream newspaper needed. His post, disputing The New York Times article, published via LinkedIn’s personal blogging feature, was cited by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in an email to employees and (so far) has been viewed more than 1.1 million times.

The connection afforded to us through the Internet presents unique opportunities for individuals to connect with each other on a personal and professional level. The flipside of this expanded access is that sharing your message, or your company’s message, is increasingly difficult. The field of competition is larger and attention spans are growing shorter.

If you or your company are ready to engage and pass along knowledge to the world at large, you’ll have to be noticed first, so start with solid writing and content tactics. Begin by picking what matters to you – you can’t do everything, and that’s okay.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, has written as a LinkedIn Influencer since 2012. He’s best known as an entrepreneur worth emulating; the majority of his posts are on entrepreneurship and sustaining businesses. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, began a blog in 2013. His focus is on charity and fighting poverty. Find your niche and you’ll discover that finding an audience is much easier.

In order for your material to get traction, you’ll need to present solid writing skills. Here are a few writing tips from LinkedIn executive editor and veteran journalist Daniel Roth to get you started (or refresh seasoned writers):

Write What You Know: This is the first rule of writing, either for yourself or for your company. (A case in point is this column – I write about marketing because it is an industry I know inside and out). Did you try a new HR tactic in the office that failed (or succeeded!) spectacularly? Write about it.

Write Often: Marketers know that you have to get your key messages out early and often and so it is with growing an audience for your content.

• Pay Attention to Trending Stories: In the aftermath of The New York Times article, workplace culture dominated the news for days. Fast Company, Forbes and The Guardian are just three among hundreds of news outlets that wrote their own pieces about work culture, joining the larger conversation that the original article sparked.

There are three billion active Internet users in the world and two billion active social media accounts. There’s more content on the Internet today than there ever was in great libraries across countries and throughout history. Identify your niche, your target audience and write thoughtfully, often and well. As traditional publishing gives way to new social platforms, now is the time to add your voice and your insights to the growing network of collective knowledge.

by Nellie Chan