How to find great business stories

Mar 20, 2014 | Better Writing

“I think I’ll take my gun to the next conference I go to.”

I know I looked perplexed, which was exactly what my friend Tom wanted. I dutifully asked him why.

“So I can shoot the next speaker who uses Zappos as an example.”

We both laughed, but, gosh, how many times have you sat in an audience and groaned as yet another speaker told the story you already heard a hundred times. How many times have you skipped reading a blog post for the same reason?

The Writer’s Dilemma

You want to produce unique and valuable content and it can’t all come from your own experience. If you’re writing about business, you need fresh examples and you want to use them before they’re common currency.

The Big Media Trap

If you’re using the stories and examples you get from big business media, you’re fishing in the same pool as everyone else. You won’t be distinctive that way. You have to find another source for business stories and examples. Let me suggest three.

Local News Outlets

Get stories from local media. That doesn’t necessarily mean small media. The Miami Herald is a good example of a local paper in a big market. It has a great business section and tells stories of companies that you won’t find in Business Week or the New York Times.

Business Insider

Business Insider has reporters turning up interesting stuff way before it appears in places like Fortune. I prefer to use their RSS feed so I can scan headlines quickly.

The Business Journals

There are Business Journals for more than forty US markets. Some are big, like Los Angeles and others are smaller like Greensboro, NC.  You can look for stories in a particular market if you’re headed there for a speech or some consulting work. Or you can scan the stories on the main site. Either way you’re likely to spot things before they hit the big time media.

I prefer using a newsletter subscription that covers all the markets. I like the coverage and the convenience of a weekday email. Newsletter subscription options are at the bottom of the home page, on the right.

I’m also a big far of their UpStart publication that covers start-ups and innovation. I use an email subscription for that, too.

To be distinctive, you need distinctive content

If you want to be distinctive, you have to look for information beyond where everyone else is looking. Use these sources to find the content that will set you apart.

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