Don’t Rolling Stone Your Content
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Don’t Rolling Stone Your Content

By Janet Garraty

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Entrepreneurs and business leaders using content marketing should take a lesson from Rolling Stone magazine’s debacle in its coverage of the University of Virginia’s rape case story.

The story’s author along with her editors failed to thoroughly challenge its sources before publishing the November 19, 2014 article about a woman’s allegation into being gang raped at a fraternity house on campus.

With one sloppily researched and edited story, the once stellar magazine has nearly destroyed its brand, was forced to retract the story and now faces sizable lawsuits.

The fallout from this overzealous pursuit of a story could have all been avoided by one simple principal; fact- check.

Like journalism, a hallmark feature of content marketing is truth. Now that businesses have become their own mini-publishers, they face the same risk when publishing poorly sourced material.


From website blogs to social media platforms, business leaders can work these channels to their benefit. But those opportunities are built on trust.

One of the ways to earn trust is by challenging your own sources of data. When creating a piece of content that relies on other source material, it pays to take time researching the credibility of that information.

How many times have you gotten a kooky email from your left or right wing uncle alleging some grand conspiracy, only to realize it was baked in half-truths and innuendos? His distribution of these “facts” is one of the reasons why you call him your “kooky” uncle.


After you do your research and are satisfied the information is solid, make sure you give credit where credit is due.

A colleague told me recently she used some reference material from a trade magazine to make her published point. A novice at content marketing, this colleague did not think to attribute the information back to the source.

This can create problems because there may be some publishing rights to that information.

By not attributing the information to the source, businesses can be accused of plagiary or worse, violating an author’s publishing rights.

A simple fix is to attribute the information back to the original author; either through stating, “according to,” or to provide a hyperlink to the source.

This will not hurt your standing in the reader’s mind. Do you think your average client is going to jump ship from you after they read you sourced another publication or research paper? No. They are going to thank you for doing the research for them.

What you may conclude from these pointers is creating the content that promotes your business takes valuable time.

Research is always time well spent. You do not think so? Ask Rolling Stone’s publisher how long he thinks it is going to take the magazine to earn its reputation back.


Janet D. Garraty

Janet D. Garraty

If you want to ensure your content is well done and effective, contact Janet Garraty HERE to discuss your particular challenge and explore the solutions Write It Like You Mean It can provide.