Better research

How to Research Like a Journalist

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How to Research Like a Journalist

Author: Bob Girolamo

The content sphere is in flux; constantly changing. Whether you’re in marketing, writing for a company, or writing articles about specific topics as educational resources, keyword research isn’t the only type of research you’ll need to conduct. Though a focus on search has an important place in modern content creation, research that incorporates multiple credible sources is what will really set your pieces apart from the competition.If research isn’t already part of your process, it’s time for a reality check. Here’s what you need to know to get started:

Research that is timely

If you are writing a press release, blog post, or article that relates to a recent event your research should incorporate information that was posted within a reasonable timeframe. Different industries and topics dictate different terms for what constitutes “timeliness”, but consider a field like SEO—something that was relevant event a year ago may no longer be relevant.

Some of the most up-to-date sources of information include recent results on Google News, Twitter and RSS feeds to trade-specific publications such as IndustryWeek, AdAge, and Thomson Reuters. Of course, when it comes to “sources” such as Twitter, additional sources may be necessary to validate information. Creating industry-specific alerts and staying on top of timely resources will unveil information as it is made public. Being the first to report on news of interest within your industry can be considered an advantage when it comes to building thought leadership.

Exclusive journalism

Being a great researcher means first identifying primary sources to refer back to. With this in mind, create a list of trade-specific publications in your subject area.

Subscribe to email updates so that you’ll have a bird’s eye view of what’s new and interesting. Online publications that post a large quantity of news send daily digests for easy skimming. If you’re looking for even more timely news, refer once again to Twitter.

Create a list of your favorite publications, and search their followers to find the handles of their journalists. Add these individuals to your Twitter list for of-the-moment news updates. Many of these journalists make it easy to get in touch via email, sharing theirs in their Twitter bio. You can use this information to get in touch if you’d like to learn more about a story, but be judicious—most journalists don’t have time to field endless questions from readers.

Making use of materials that aren’t time sensitive

If you want information on a company’s most recent developments, it may be as simple as conducting a Google search with the terms, “[Name of Business] Press Release” or “[Name of Business] PR”. Besides a company’s own efforts to publicize their latest and greatest feats, there are many publications devoted to aggregating press releases that you could search for more information (such as Business Wire). Press releases are written in a professional language and are neutral of public opinion, which can be helpful for your research.

Using niche search engines such as Google Scholar or PubMed can help you access materials not available to the general public. The Library of Congress also has a free online database that’s easy to navigate. While you’re at it, don’t forget about your local library, which provides free access (when you sign up for a library card) to dozens of informational databases. At any rate, when using materials taken from scholarly publications, it is important to remember that these materials are not subject to frequent updates. You will have to judge for yourself whether a study from the early 2000s is still relevant for whatever topic you’re writing about.

Handling biases

Your topic is best served if you attack it from many angles. For example, don’t just source information from the New York Times: go to CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, and Bloomberg. Read their official publications, the press releases companies released to the news giants, and possibly even their social media posts. Attempt to contact the journalists themselves with your questions for more credibility, if necessary.

If you’re not finding enough diversity with national publications, consider local papers and local papers’ social media handles. Go to conventions that are popular with the brand you’re studying. Go to their competitor’s blogs for other ideas.

No matter how you go about it, try to view your subject from many different lenses.

Alternative search engines

Google may be the mainstream, go-to search engine, but the web has many estuaries in its content river. If you follow some of these less traveled paths, it will lead you to the under-represented hovels the internet hides its gold in.

Some alternative search engines are owned by Google-like Blink. Others are owned by different companies, like Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Dogpile. Some are private deep web projects like Tor Browser (which is free to download and helps you to search the .onion level of the internet). Some of these are highly intelligent and will deeply analyze your query for you to save you some of the time in shaping your query. Another option, Wolfram Alpha’s search engine, allows you to enter in the name of a company and it will spit back its sector, latest stock trade price, and executives names—along with a brief bio. Find at least one other search engine that you like and weigh the differences in your research results. Queries from various sources form a well-rounded view and provide backlink material that others aren’t necessarily vying for.

Final thoughts:

Research at any level must be comprehensive to be valuable. Don’t fill your writing with filler that takes away from the experience of your human reader.

By being purposeful in your research, you’ll be a better content marketer overall.

Give Sorc'd a try for better research

Sorc'd featured in Forbes

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A digital highlighter that allowed people to save the most important pieces of their everyday reads, then they could save a lot of time not re-searching through articles and emails they had already read...Emily and Bob were determined to make Sorc’d a successful solution with practical purposes that people could actually use on a daily basis. Read entire article on Forbes.com

Complex Science Writing Made Simple

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From a User's Prospective:Scientific Writer shares advice

Author: Alexander Carchidi

I view the challenges of science writing as twofold: building personal understanding about the scientific topic, and succinctly passing on that understanding. Trying to explain a scientific topic to the public can quickly spiral out of control due to the amount of background context that must be built from scratch.

These two core challenges assume that the author knows enough background about the scientific topic that they’re trying to write about to successfully educate someone else — but every writer and every scientist has found themselves in the position of needing to write about something they aren’t yet knowledgeable about.

The solution to not knowing enough about a scientific topic is to perform even more research. The chances of correctly understanding and then correctly describing brand new information will be sketchy without a way to organize the new information coming in. Keeping track of information, sources, and how the source was accessed rapidly becomes a major battle. Preparing a simple Word document with snippets of information drains a lot of time: each new source must be linked along with its relevant quotations, requiring an abundance of copying, pasting, and switching windows. Some of these efforts may be replicated later when actually writing.

Each flip back and forth between separate software elements is an event boundary — a psychological transition which increases the chance of losing track of what you’re doing. Many articles will require dozens of different sources to be paraphrased or quoted. Each source must be referenced correctly, leading to hours of time lost fumbling with the transfer of information. The incentive to incorporate fewer sources in order to avoid the hassle of manipulating their information is quite strong.

Using fewer sources is a surefire way to produce weak science writing, however. In my experience, many scientists and writers have resigned themselves to performing hours of tedious research documentation. It doesn’t have to be that way.

SORC’D has a few advantages over similar research tools for scientific writing. The largest advantage is simplicity and ease of use. Research is a fluid process, and disruptions break the flow of investigation, causing unfollowed leads. SORC’D allows for extremely rapid snipping which doesn’t disrupt concentration.

I frequently spy a tidbit in a paper that I want to come back to. Before SORC’D, I’d grab the hyperlink to the entire paper — even if most of it wasn’t relevant — and paste it into a document filled with other such links. Cue time to write, and of course it’s a struggle to hunt down the exact piece that was useful in the morass of tables, figures, and text. With SORC’D, this problem has become extinct — I simply grab, tag, and move on. I know it’ll be waiting for me with the link to the rest of the article too, should I need it.

The other major advantage of SORC’D is a simple (notice how I keep coming back to simple?) organization system for your data: tagging. Sure, other systems have tagging. If you’re stuck in the stone age, you can break up individual projects into separate files to avoid getting them confused — but SORC’D lets you combine the harvesting and organizing of information.

I frequently write articles about topics within immunology, and struggle to retain the contents of research that I glossed over while hunting for other information. Now, it’s tagged based off the topic. When I sit down to write about a very narrow topic within immunology, I have all my previous research at my fingertips. Information is not only more organized, but easier to process into an understanding that is broader than the needs of today.

It’s hard to overstate how much my workflow has changed with SORC’D. Now, I err on the side of capturing information wherever my research takes me. My worries of losing focus due to complicated data recording, citation, and transfer are a thing of the past.

Streamlining my research process has led to faster and deeper understanding of the material. Rather than flicking between a dozen different browser tabs or Word documents, information that I’m interested in writing about is at my fingertips. If I want to quote directly, SORC’D is integrated with Google Docs, so it’s as simple as pushing a button. Using SORC’D is like having a second prosthetic short-term memory that I can use in addition to my own—a colossal benefit to say the least.

Science writing is a rat's nest of chasing down sources, integrating information, and attempting to explain data to an audience that may not understand the context. Using SORC'd makes the hardest step of science writing — research gathering — vastly more manageable than before.

PRESS RELEASE: The Launch of Sorc’d for Microsoft Office Forecasts Increase in Productivity for Content Creators

For Immediate Release9 a.m. PST June 7, 2016

For press inquiries: Bob Girolamo Bob@Sorcd.com (312) 953-6060     The Launch of Sorc’d for Microsoft Office Forecasts Increase in Productivity for Content Creators

Sorc’d Takes Major Step to Becoming a Necessity For Smarter Content Creation

CHICAGO – June 7, 2016 – Sorc’d [Sorcd.com], the cloud-based aggregator for snippets of content users have deemed noteworthy, today announced the launch of Sorc’d for Microsoft Office. This is an expansion of plans Sorc’d has to seamlessly integrate with content creation partners, augmenting existing systems to create more value for users. The add-on empowers users of Microsoft Office: Word, PowerPoint, and Excel to search and add snippets from the Sorc’d knowledge base directly within Office documents.

“Sorc’d is about giving back precious time and mental capacity to a world that is overloaded with data, said Bob Girolamo, CEO of Sorc’d. “By providing a platform that is intuitive and easy to use, we hope users can discover more meaningful pieces of information to use as support or idea generation for original content. Add on the sharing and collaboration of the Sorc’d collective database, and you’ve got an environment where teams become smarter, thought leaders flourish, and individuals discover something new.”

“Sorc’d gives our joint users the tools they need to be as productive as possible with seamless integration into Microsoft Office products,” proclaimed Rob Howard, director, Office 365 Ecosystem, Microsoft.

Sorc’d clients boast shaving at least 30% off their research and content creation time by using the productivity tools. With over 90% of the world’s data created in the last two years, it’s no wonder that:

- 62% of professionals say their quality of work suffers because they can’t sort information fast enough,1

- professionals waste an average of 9+ hours EVERY week searching and gathering information,2 and

- Fortune 500 companies lose $30+ billion a year by failing to share knowledge.3 By making relevant snippets of content universally accessible and easily digestible, Sorc’d provides clients – such as content creation and marketing agencies, writers, journalists, marketers, and students – new cross-platform solutions for building stronger content, faster.

Unlike other ways to save information, Sorc’d is about efficiency and effectiveness. Without too many bells and whistle, all of the highly intuitive tools are designed with the end goal in mind – to build stronger content, faster. A browser extension enables users to highlight and organize only the pieces of online content they find interesting, such as in an article, blog, presentation or email. These “snippets” can be filtered by category, tag, post type, favorites or date, and link to their original sources. Recalling and importing snippets – both private and public – can be done with a single click via add-ins, like the one in Microsoft Office, or APIs. Users can choose to have the original source link built into the snippet or come after it. Users may create footnotes from links coming after the snippets with a few keyboard shortcuts.

Although Sorc’d has users from around the world, the company is focusing first on providing quality solutions to the 132 million employed in United States markets that create content, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.4  As the demands for original content increase, leveraging collective intelligence and participation from many parts of an organization will become essential - sourcing subject matter experts, thought leaders, research and other departments. Decision makers credit content marketing with driving sales (88%), customer referrals (83%), and customer loyalty (75%).5

 Sorc’d connected with Microsoft Corp. through 1871, Chicago’s entrepreneurial hub.

 

About Sorc’d (pronounced sourced)

An innovation award-winner, Sorc’d empowers content creators to build stronger content, faster through a cloud-powered knowledge database of digestible snippets of relevant content, substantially decreasing research time and giving users more time to focus on what matters. Seamlessly integrating with numerous content creation systems, such as Microsoft Office and Google Docs, Sorc’d supercharges existing processes across public and private systems for content creation and marketing agencies, public relation agencies, writers, journalists, marketers, healthcare and academia. The company is based out of Chicago’s entrepreneurial hub, 1871. For more information please visit: http://Sorcd.com

 

1."Newsroom." New Survey Reveals Extent, Impact of Information Overload on Workers; From Boston to Beijing, Professionals Feel Overwhelmed, Demoralized. Lexis Nexis, 20 Oct. 2010. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

  1. Shechtman, Jason. "Top 3 Reasons Why We Spend So Much Time Searching for Information | Under The Radar Conference | UTRConf."Under The Radar Conference. Under The Radar, 14 May 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
  2. Quast, Lisa. "Why Knowledge Management Is Important To The Success Of Your Company." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 20 Aug. 2012. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
  3. "Occupational Employment Statistics Home Page." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
  4. "Survey: Demand for Content-marketing Expertise Outpaces Supply of Skilled Job-seekers." Survey: Demand for Content-marketing Expertise Outpaces Supply of Skilled Job-seekers. SkilledUp, 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

 

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The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

 

For more information, press only:

Bob Girolamo, Sorc’d, (312) 953-6060, Bob@Sorcd.com

 

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Sorc’d, please visit http://www.Sorcd.com.

Good Content Marketing: Delivering Well-Researched and Well-Written Content

Guest post by:Matthew Kaplan, Senior Content Manager at Brafton Inc. Head Writer, Chicago Finance, Industry & Technology

One of the toughest parts about being a content writer at a marketing agency is juggling the demands of all the clients. Here at Brafton, I could be personally writing for many different clients at once, and editing the copy for many others too. All told, I could be involved with the copy for dozens of different businesses at one time. Considering that each and every client has particular needs for their content and they all address a different audience, this can be a lot to think about and handle at any given moment.

Further compounding the issue is the fact that I write almost exclusively for B2B technology clients. So, not only am I thinking about dozens of businesses and unique marketing strategies all at once, but each one is operating in an especially niche field. Trust me, it takes time, patience and good research skills as a writer to learn the intricacies of big data, cybersecurity, data center networking and the many other IT-centric topics I cover day in and day out. It's too easy for this meme to become my reality at my job.

Problems with old information-saving techniques

When I first started writing at Brafton many moons ago, I used the Bookmarks feature in Chrome to save information. When I would find an excellent statistic in my research, I would bookmark it for future use. I would also sometimes keep links in a Google Drive document. This was a huge help in my early days at the agency, as I would find myself leveraging the same numbers over and over again for certain clients.

But, both methods quickly proved cumbersome for many reasons. For one, as the number of clients I became involved with grew by the day, I was saving so many links that it became increasingly difficult to find older stats I had stashed away. Thus, what was originally a time-saving measure turned into a time sink as I spent way too much time combing through my Chrome bookmarks looking in vain for one particular tidbit.

In addition, as my job became more collaborative with other creatives here at Brafton, I encountered difficulties when trying to share great pieces of information I found. Email and instant messaging could work in a pinch, but it's too easy to ignore both or to forget to save a link sent to you in this manner. I would sometimes share co-workers on my Google doc, but then they'd have to sift through my hundreds of sometimes unrelated links to find something relevant to their needs.

What it all added it up to was precious time wasted looking for information and trying in vain to collaborate. In any business, time is money, and I was losing both to inefficient information storage and recollection.

How Sorc'd saves the day, every day

Luckily, all of my old information saving and sharing woes are firmly in the rearview mirror ever since I discovered Sorc'd. If you've never used it before, Sorc'd is a total lifesaver for an agency writer like myself. With one Web-based tool I can access from any computer, I have the ability to save information I find on any website. Thanks to its tags feature and great search functionality, I can always find tibdits I put in Sorc'd with ease. My Sorc'd account is linked with co-workers, so they can easily find the information I put in there and vice versa.

My co-workers and I have estimated that thanks to Sorc'd, we now spend 10 to 20 percent less time than before looking for the information we need to write content for our clients. Thanks to Sorc'd, we have a much easier time delivering well-researched and well-written content to all of the businesses we work with. In our fast-paced agency world, this makes Sorc'd one of the most invaluable tools in our arsenal.

Bloggers Meet Startups Interview with Bob Girolamo

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Meet Bob Girolamo of Sorc’d

Posted on May 5, 2016 by madeline.osman

Bob Girolamo is the founder of Sorc'd, a startup in 1871. Follow Sorc'd on Twitter and learn more about the company below: 

Tell us about your project:

Sorc’d empowers content creators to build stronger content, faster. Clients boast saving 30% or more off their research and creation time by using the suite of cloud-powered tools for capturing snippets of relevant content and seamlessly integrating them into their content

Sorc’d is about efficiency and effectiveness.  All of the highly intuitive tools are designed with the end goal in mind – to build stronger content, faster. A browser extension enables users to highlight and organize only the pieces of online content they find interesting, such as in an article, blog, presentation or email. These “snippets” can be filtered by category, tag, post type, favorites or date, and link to their original sources. Recalling and importing snippets – both private and public – can be done with a single click via add-ins, like the one in Microsoft Office, Google Docs or APIs. Users can choose to have the original source link built into the snippet or come after it. Users may create footnotes from links coming after the snippets with a few keyboard shortcuts.

READ ARTICLE

The Key to Upping Your Content Game? Credible Research

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As content marketing grows in popularity, there’s no denying its impact on company sales, sentiment, and reputation. According to SkilledUp, 88 percent of decision makers credit content marketing with driving sales, 83 percent with customer referrals, and 75 percent with customer loyalty...READ MORE

MEETADVISORS: MINIMIZING YOUR MISTAKES

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MEETADVISORS: MINIMIZING YOUR MISTAKES

Renata Sandor of MeetAdvisors meets up with Bob Girolamo, Co-founder of Sorc‘dto get tips and tricks on how to do research better. How to capture, recall and use snippets of relevant information in content creation. Working with a team and sharing collective knowledge is key.