5 Lessons for Content Marketers from Jon Stewart

After learning of Jon Stewart’s impending departure from The Daily Show, there are some heavy hearts around the office today. But there’s much to be gleaned from his epic tenure at Comedy Central. Here are five lessons content marketers can learn from the legend himself.

  1. Even information can be entertaining.
    The Daily Show ranked fourth in the late night landscape with 1.4 million viewers in the 18-49 year old demographic, according to last June’s Nielsen ratings. Even the most diehard fans have to admit that’s fairly shocking for a news show. As content marketers seek to find a balance between educating and captivating audiences, we should remember that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, if given the right tone and personality.
  2. And entertainment can be informative.
    A number of informal studies and polls show Daily Show viewers are actually better informed about current events than their counterparts who only watch other news sources such as CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. While the accuracy and “truthiness” of these observations may be questionable, they *do* show that using entertainment as a vessel for data can be an effective way to connect with audiences and create memorable content that hits home.
  3. The best in the business have a strong POV… and express it.
    While his views are sometimes inflammatory, Jon Stewart has been nothing if not completely powerful and passionate in his expression of them since manning the desk at The Daily Show. The same goes for brands and the content you create. There’s no room for wishy washy when it comes to this space, so while we may not want to take on Bill O’Reilly or tackle corruption in politics, content marketers can (and should) address opinion-laced topics with candor and heart. Here’s one of Stewart’s finest moments to remind us.
  4. Always surround yourself with a top notch team.
    From John Oliver and Kirsten Schaal to Olivia Munn and (of course) Steven Colbert, The Daily Show has been a springboard for  the careers of a number of now-famous celebs. Even Steve Carell was virtually unknown before his stint as DS correspondent from 1999 to 2005. This is a perfect example of how a stellar group can help make a good effort great. Content marketing doesn’t exist as a one person tour de force, so go out of your way to develop and involve a motley crew of creative, strategic and data pros who can all bring their personal strengths and personalities to the table.
  5. Most importantly, never take yourself too seriously.
    Even when he tackles hard-hitting issues, Stewart specifically and The Daily Show in general frequently invoke a self-deprecating tone that’s both refreshing and entertaining. In 2008, Stewart stated “The whole idea that we’re the beacon of integrity is ridiculous. We get far more attention from (the press) than we should.” While the news (and content marketing) may be serious business, there’s no reason why we have to take it so seriously all the time.

Thanks for sixteen years of gut-busting satire, Jon. We miss you already.


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