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“Gotta Read” content boosts your readership. Here’s how to create it.

Note: The analytics charts showing the results of McMillan’s successful construction are at the bottom of this article.



This article looks at how a recent blog post by Rob McMillan, EVP and Founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division hit a home run in readership.


That post — Restaurant Wine Sales Collapsing for Small Wineries —  was one of the blog’s top-10 all time widest read posts according to its author.


The elements of getting effective readership, reaction, and response for your content — regardless of whether it is journalism or advertising — are basically the same. However the implementation of those elements varies depending upon where your message fits in the journalism -> advertising spectrum.


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What does the content spectrum look like?

“Content” these days runs an analog continuum that ranges (in order of credibility)  from:

(1) Journalism/Reportorial: designed to inform — based on verifiable facts and data with statements by or attributed to credible sources.

(2) Public relations: Should inform in a manner that is good journalism from a client’s standpoint. To be credible, superlatives and congratulatory language must be tied to verifiable facts and data with statements by or attributed to credible sources.

(3) Editorial advocacy/opinion pieces: designed to persuade. To be credible, expressed opinions must be based on verifiable facts and data with statements by or attributed to credible sources.

(4)Native advertising: designed to sell and/or persuade but presented in an editorial/reportorial format.

(5) Graphic advertising: designed to sell.

Given intentions, format, content and other considerations, those five categories are moving targets, analog sliders along a scale with no firm digital landmarks.

Regardless of where they fit in the continuum, all of these must attract attention, motivate action, and pay off in such a way that social media leverages the message.

Where does McMillan’s article fit?

McMillan’s post clearly fits the Journalism/Reportorial category.

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In  this case, McMillan’s article was data-driven, not connected to Silicon Valley Bank, with judgement based on years of experience.

To illustrate the analog nature of the spectrum, we often see content that fits somewhere between 1 and 2: articles that convey stealth commercial messages. Those are:

  • clearly written,
  • lack self-congratulatory statements and superlatives,
  • convey solid, useful information, but,

may be a case history about how a company’s products or services benefited a customer or client. Those are closer to the “native advertising” category and carry less credibility.


Why Did This Article Hit McMillan’s  All-Time Top Ten?


(1) Knew what his audience was keenly interested in.

(2) Shaped a short but powerful headline that targeted his audience.

(3) Posted a large, relevant graphic that reinforced the headline

(4) Paid off on the headline and followed up on the chart with tightly written and information-packed analysis and more charts.

(5) Made sure to notify relevant digital outlets of the upcoming article.

(6) Displayed all the correct social media links to make it easy for readers to share.

The results, day 1

Reactions are generally in two phases: Immediate from primary sources and delayed responses from social media.



The results, day 2

As can be seen by this, McMillan’s article continued a long and substantial tail of readers on the second day.



Results almost a month later

This screen capture, snagged off McMillan’s site at 10:07 a.m., Jun 18, 2017, illustrates the long tail that solid, well-done content can produce.


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Some Previous WII Links on this and related topics