Content Marketing for a Cause: Four Things the CDC can Teach Business about Smart Marketing Strategy

CDC Sharing Infographics on Pinterest

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains countless content resources that directly support the organization’s public health goals. While the CDC is not a business, content marketers can learn a thing or two about effective content strategy just by perusing the site, and checking out their social media activity.

1. Online, the CDC Acts Like a Publisher

There is a lot of hard work and hard science conducted by the CDC to protect and improve Americans’ health. Much of that work is invisible to the rest of us, and much of the science is indecipherable. To top it off, medicine and public health include countless boring, gross, unpleasant and otherwise undesirable topics. However, because the CDC has built a deep and useful repository of information, it’s a very popular internet destination.

By becoming one of the most important online publishers of health-related information, the CDC can more effectively tackle it’s public health objectives. Most of the content you’ll find there is carefully crafted to deliver value to the audience. No one cares as much about the work the CDC does as they do about specific issues that affect them. Every smart brand publisher should understand that.

2. Content is Factual and Informative

You’d expect an organization that’s built on medical science to provide factual content. That’s not really the point. Because the CDC’s information is generally very clear and factually correct, it’s more compelling and authoritative than Yvette’s blog about various alternative health treatments. No matter if Yvette has 30 years of experience and has seen amazing results along the way, she’s always going to have a hard time looking the part of a credible authority if she can’t deliver research and case studies with hard data.

Even if Yvette can’t manage to conduct some surveys with her clients or commission a study, she can cite relevant facts and informational resources that make her content more credible.

3. Information is Easy to Consume and Share

Much of the content the CDC produces isn’t meant to stay at home– it’s supposed to get out and travel. So they dress it up and put it into portable formats, including an array of infographics, like you’ll find on their Pinterst page. Yeah, I know, even the CDC has a Pinterest page.

You can also find assorted bite-sized infographics that are useful for adding credibility to other sites’ content. Gee, that sounds familiar.  Here’s a gallery of visual content from the  Smoking and Tobacco section. Notice that these graphics are quick and inexpensive to make and even easier to share. An infographic doesn’t need to be an epic 12,000 vertical pixel affair.

Infographics Gallery on CDC

4. They Tell Stories

“Brand storytelling” is a popular term these days. But the thing is, stories about brands aren’t typically interesting to readers. That is to say, great brand stories are the exception, not the rule. Stories about real people that the audience can relate to– now that’s what brand storytelling needs to be.

If studies and stats don’t get a point across, emotional human imagery certainly can. Real Stories about Smoking’s Harm Hit Home, shows a series of graphic television spots, and discusses the effects these real life stories have had helping as many as 100,000 people to quit smoking.

Everyone, no matter the business or organization, has a story to tell, otherwise, they wouldn’t do what they do. Talk with your customers, business partners, vendors and prospects. Stories matter. You should tell them.

Mike is Co-founder and CMO of Content BLVD, a marketplace where product companies and YouTubers meet to get more products into more videos. He's written for, been quoted in, and kicked out of many fine establishments.

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