Editorial Mission Statements: They do not get much notice, but most large, reputable media organizations have some type of editorial mission statement that serves as the basis for explaining who they are, what they do, and what their goals are.
For examples, here are the mission statements of three such organizations:
- The core purpose of The New York Times is to enhance society by creating, collecting, and distributing high-quality news and information. Producing content of the highest quality and integrity is the basis for our reputation and the means by which we fulfill the public trust and our customers’ expectations.
- The Washington Post is pledged to an aggressive, responsible and fair pursuit of the truth without fear of any special interest, and with favor to none.
- The Economist aims to offer insight, analysis and services that are valued by its customers. Underpinning…this objective is a commitment to independence, integrity and delivering high quality in everything it does.
- Sports Illustrated covers the people, passions, and issues of numerous sports with the journalistic integrity that has made it the conscience of all sports…it is surprising, engaging, and informative, and always with a point of view that puts the reader “in the game.”
Most leading media companies, especially those that have survived the ups and downs of the past few years, have an editorial mission statement that not only sets out their plans and goals, but also serves as their content foundation. However, as more and more companies become their own publishers, what they often overlook is creating a similar statement for their content marketing site. According to Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, this can be a serious mistake that may become a more serious mistake with time.
“If the editorial mission statement isn’t right, everything else will go wrong,” says Pulizzi. “Brands create [a mission statement] for their products and services, but almost never about the content they use to attract and retain customers…and that is exactly why most branded content fails.”
As you can see, he feels pretty strong about this. But at the very least, having a mission statement can help build your content marketing strategy. In addition, according to Pulizzi, it can do the following:
- Articulate your approach to the content and industry
- Clearly define who the content is for
- State how the content will satisfy the needs of readers
- Focus on your readers and their needs.
I must admit, I have started working with some clients providing content marketing services without clearly defining our mission or goals. I’m not going to let that happen again. I believe Pulizzi is right. An editorial mission statement should be created as soon as the content marketing program is started. It becomes the core or foundation of the program and what he calls “a rallying cry for your team and a beacon for your services.”