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How to Curate Content & Influence People

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Curating content like a PR pastor.

I’m not a religious man.

But I admire the community aspect of religion.

The social binding that comes through a good priest watching over his flock.

I guess that’s where the relatively new idea of “curated content” comes from.

Sharing the latest and greatest thinking from around the world to create a community around your brand.

In my case Zude PR…rather than God.

Curated content

Curating content does not mean nicking other people’s ideas and passing them off as your own. Oh no. As I’ve blogged before, times have changed.

With few exceptions, every business should be sharing what it knows in 2014.

  • Customers will see you as an authority.
  • They will be glad that you have helped them.
  • It tees up your self-promotional shares.
  • It will humanise your brand.
  • Your peers will take notice.
  • Your Twitter marketing will take off.
  • And this key aspect of content marketing will open doors to new business. If it’s good enough for Gini Dietrich, it’s good enough for me.

My story

When I set up my startup public relations company in Glasgow seven months ago, I looked around at the tools in my PR and marketing armoury.

How was I going to compete with my competitors? How was I going to raise my profile when, aside from launch day,  my business hadn’t got many newsworthy stories to tell?

Bigger, more established Glasgow PR companies had an in-built advantage.

A tricky one. And the tried and tested media relations route was not the answer.

Media relations was not the answer for a startup Glasgow public relations company.

Media relations was not the answer. What if there was a different way?

One of the ways I addressed this imbalance was content curation. Meaning: finding interesting, on-brand stuff, injecting a bit of your own personality, and sharing it through social media.

Here, the Internet was my friend and I have had, as my mentors, some of the best in the business. Not personally, you’ll understand. People like Kevan Lee, Jeff Bullas, Gini Dietrich, and the guys at PR Daily, Moz and Copyblogger, to name but a few.

Most of these gurus blog daily and the content they produce is amazing.

The great thing about being a content curator pro is that you must read every single thing you share on social media.

Read everything you curate.

This means that over a period of time you learn so much that you become completely au fait with your topic area.

You are not only sharing all the latest thinking but also implementing it. Whether that’s for your own business or (in my case, as someone who provides content marketing services) your clients’.

Would I tell every organisation to go down the content curation route? No. But most businesses could benefit. The amount of people I bump into now who marvel at my grasp of content marketing, SEO and PR…and wonder where the heck I find all this stuff.

Finding good content is hard.

And it is this curated content, mixed with self-penned blogs, which has led to all my new business wins over the last seven months. It reminds people I’m here, tells them what I’m doing and gives them something useful.

I don’t worry about giving it all away either. If any of my potential clients have got the time to read everything I curate, fair play to them. Otherwise, they may just hire someone like me to do it for them.

Content curation was different in the 1970s

Me, as I might have looked, had I been a content curator in the 1970s.

So, that’s my story. For the rest of this post I’m going to share with you the 21 tools I use to find all this amazing material.

I’ll then finish off with my six top tips on how to curate content like a public relations pastor and create a congregation.

And remember. The best priests are those who care for their parishioners. Imparting little homilies and wisdoms on a daily basis is all very well but – once a week – everyone’s going to expect an original sermon. Or in my case a blog (mea culpa, must try harder).

Good curates care about their flocks.

But before you start

It’s worth stating here that before you begin sharing your thoughts and those of others with potential customers, you’d better understand what you stand for.

Tone of voice

Tone of voice is so important. My three brand pillars are trust, integrity and results. They colour my tone of voice on social media. I would add honesty to this, and also a little bit of humour (but not too much).

I admire Buffer’s tone of voice, which is all about truthfulness and transparency. I am indebted to this great article (albeit I’m sure many of my clients would think sharing all staff salaries is a bridge too far).

Once you’ve worked out your tone of voice, it’s all about working out what you would like to be known for. Who are your target audiences. Who is your target customer.

This is the most important bit.

I share content on media relations, content marketing, SEO, media crisis management, public relations, ethics, honesty, measurement, social media marketing, and Glasgow.

Try to keep it wide enough that you have a steady stream of content but not so wide as people don’t know what you stand for, or what services you offer.


You need a website. I don’t need to say that right? If you haven’t got one, stop reading now.

Social media

You also need social media portals. Take advice from someone like me here. If you’re selling to other businesses, do you need a Facebook page? Sometimes yes but most times no.

Set up enough social media portals that you are seeing the value from identifying great content.

Most B2B companies need a verified Google+ company page (Google My Business), a LinkedIn personal and company page and a company or personal Twitter feed.

And get them set up right. You can do it yourself but more often than not it’ll look a bit shonky. Best to hire a professional who will make you and your company look good.

Also, make sure you join and contribute to relevant Google+ Communities and LinkedIn Groups.

Scheduling tools

Then set yourself up with a social media post scheduler. I’m with Hootsuite Pro but I also have the free Buffer subscription. Don’t try to make curated content a key part of your marketing strategy without these time-saving tools.

Hootsuite Pro is essential for content curation.

Pretty much every curated content tool nowadays can schedule BUT you still need Buffer or Hootsuite (I’ve not tried Sprout Social but I believe that is great too). The time Hootsuite Pro saves you for under £100 a year is immense.

21 ways to curate content like a PR pastor

Right, ok, so here are the 21 ways I find content for Zude PR and its clients. Hope you find it useful.

I use the Chrome browser with extensions, and have an Android Nexus 7 tablet and Nexus 5 smartphone. I do the vast majority of content curation on my laptop. I won’t kid you, it takes a fair bit of time to sign up to all these tools and tell them what you want them to find. But, it’s worth it.

Schedulers (with suggestions)

#1: Buffer

Buffer, the scheduling tool, also has a “suggestions” section. It makes 25 suggestions at a time. I find myself sharing one or two of these a week. They tend to be quirky and contain a few quotes. It gets to know you/your client pretty well after a time. Sharing is easy because the suggestions are made within the scheduling tool. Buffer is great. And why do I think this? Two words: content marketing. The Buffer blog is the only one I Twibble, such is my confidence that every post will be a great one.

#2: Hootsuite

Again, Hootsuite has a “suggested” section which has been in beta for as long as I can remember. Like Buffer, it’s so easy to share. I find some of the 20 suggestions a bit salesy e.g. company x is launching a new social media product, and some of the content is sponsored. In addition, some of the content is too old. Ex-journalists tend to make great content marketers…and they would tell you that it pays to be first with the news.

Suggesters (with scheduling functionality)

I’m not going to go into the scheduling functionality of each one here. Some only post to two social networks (unless you upgrade). Some only share there and then. Some you can set to share in say 2/4/8 hours/whenever you want. Some you can change the text for each social media portal. I will focus on the content they find for you.

#3: ContentGems

For me, ContentGems is the Daddy of content suggesters. For Zude PR, I have it set for two interests (the maximum on the free plan). It emails me every day with about 20 suggestions for each topic, and they are always on song. The articles it puts forward are content gems: it does what it says on the tin. My go-to content suggester.

#4: Swayy

Swayy is also good. It’s a lot more visual than ContentGems and the rolling dashboard is a good feature. It takes me longer to find good content though and I often find myself flipping out before I’ve had time to explore its suggestions. Again, you receive a daily e-mail, but with just four or five pieces of suggested content, more often than not it misses the mark.

October 2015 update: perhaps this is why it shut down in July 2015, with its founders joining SimilarWeb.

#5: Beatrix

Tried Beatrix, have an account, persevered with it a few times but now never use. They were good in offering me a free webinar but I found it a bit fiddly and there are only so many hours in the day.

#6: Klout

Klout is addictive; who works in social media and doesn’t know their Klout score:O). It is also a content suggester, and scheduler. A year ago, I used Klout to find content. But the more I used its content suggesting functionality, the less content I curated. I found myself swiping through loads of visually-well-laid out dashboard content to unearth that gem. I sometimes use it, as it does well in finding local (to Glasgow) material.

Klout scores are vanity scores for social media pros.

Daily e-mails

The more your Twitter network grows, the more useful these next two services are. I find them particularly good for quick and dirty scheduling. The key with curated content is not spending too much time while giving your flock the sort of tending they deserve. These two daily emails highlight the most-shared items by your Twitter followers. It’s likely that you will want to share too.

#7: Daily Digg

Simple sign-up process. Always on point. The content author is usually someone whose work you are familiar with. Take a quick squizz then share. Simples, is Daily Digg.

Daily Digg content curation emailer.

#8: Nuzzel

Nuzzel is similar to Digg but, if anything more comprehensive. It suggests not only the most shared content of your Twitter followers but also the most shared content of their friends.

And like the two above, check out number nine and sign up to the daily newsletter.

#9: Medium

Another daily email. Posts on Medium tend to be less commercial and more quirky/thoughtful…if sometimes outrageous. Watch for that, outrage will not form a key plank of your tone of voice. I write on Medium and it’s good to support what is an excellent, clean blogging platform.

The Daddy of them all

#10: BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is just an amazing piece of kit. With many uses. E.g. I’ve used it when writing this post to find out how other bloggers have approached the topic of curated content, and what have been the most popular posts over the past year.

When curating content, I set it on the week filter on a Monday and, depending on time and client needs, check it daily for topic areas. It tells you how many “social shares” each piece of content has had. Not always but, as a rule, the higher the shares the better the content. I then click on the original webpage and press Hootlet in my extensions. Reference the author, add your own commentary and share to the appropriate networks. And bear in mind it’s not just a blog search tool. It covers infographics, podcasts and videos too.

The curator’s curation tool

#11: Feedly

Feedly rocks; if you have time, that is. As you curate more and more content for your company, you’ll get to know which authors you like and which you don’t. If you think your followers will like their content, stick their RSS feed in your Feedly. Pro tip: if you’re using Chrome head over to the Chrome Store and get Feedly Mini. Make life easy for yourself. Your Feedly knows which posts you’ve read and which you haven’t. As you get better at curating content, your Feedly will be your go-to resource for unearthing those hidden gems. I schedule time every morning to rifle through my Feedly. I skip over the bloggers whose posts I’ve shared during the week and have a look at the more obscure ones. Those bloggers, like me, who only make time to post once a week or so. If I spot a gem, I buffer it up for later in the week.

Nice-to-haves (if you get time)

#12: Reddit

Reddit is a whole ecosystem in itself. There are subreddits for every interest, but don’t break the rules. I sometimes check in to see if I can spot some content which the Reddit community has voted up (a sure sign of content virality). But more often than not I just dip in when I’m trying to promote a blog post.

Reddit can unearth some buried content treasure.

#13: Upworthy

A good search tool but the content you find tends to be a bit negative. Upworthy is definitely worth a look because there can be some real beauties in there.

#14: The Latest

This one’s simple. The Latest gives you the 10 top trending links on Twitter, right now. I’ve just clicked on it and it tells me a new Google Calendar app will be out on Android v. soon. I won’t be sharing that, but I will be using it.

A niche content curation tool is The Latest.

#15: Brand Mentions

The new brand tracker tool. It’s an app anyone can use to search any company/keyword on social media and the news.

#16: Slideshare

We all know being visual on social media begets more interaction. So why don’t you see many companies sharing slidedecks? There are hundreds of hidden gems to be found on Slideshare. The same goes for YouTube.

#17: LinkedIn

Most people still see LinkedIn as a text-based rather dry networking tool for businesses. Not so. With the roll-out this year of LinkedIn Publishing it is now a sophisticated blogging platform. If you write good content, and it’s picked up by Pulse, the reach is phenomenal. And even though it’s barely a year old, the amount of content already on there is amazing. Worth a look at its blog post search tool (click search for posts) once a week in my opinion. I always find something relevant to share.

#18: What’s Hot on Google+

The thing about content schedulers such as Hootsuite and Buffer is that they only post to your Google+ Company Page. That’s great, but, most people then neglect their personal page. I find the What’s Hot – Google+ hashtag search tool a great means of +1’ing/sharing content to those in my various Google+ Circles. There’s some interesting, visual content on Google+ and marketers ignore it at their peril.

#19: Alltop

Want to find great blogs in any given topic area, look no further than Alltop. If a blog’s on Alltop it’s a good ‘un. Go one step further and stick it in your Feedly. You know it makes sense.

Two for the road


I’m experimenting with this. I’ve noticed that quite a few influencers in my field are using and every time I Scoop content to my dashboard I get a Mention.

That sentence sounds like I’ve spent far too much time in social media land. is another means of sharing content, inventively, on Twitter, and has good SEO value. So I’m for it, so far.


Sniply: the missing tool in the content curator's toolbox.

I’m not sure yet whether is the missing tool in the effective content curator’s toolbox or a hammer to crack a nut. I’ve been using it for a month now and all I can say is, try it for size, use sparingly and see how it goes. I like it, as so do others.

Content curation is all about having a good process.


Put some time aside every week to buffer your content. I do Zude PR’s first thing on a Monday morning. I start with the timeous content which has come in over the weekend then switch to Feedly and BuzzSumo to look at older and more obscure material. That way, if I don’t have time to do any more curating during the week, I have a base level of curated content. I then know I won’t disappear off my congregation’s radar.


Digg, Nuzzel, ContentGems and Swayy. Wait until the end of the day or deal with the emails when they come in. But try to be first with the news. Sharing is caring.


Don’t go off piste. I’m a startup. There are so many things that affect my business on a daily basis; thing I’m interested in. But sharing productivity techniques is not what my brand is all about. Focus.


Don’t just share. You’ll get used to it but all these suggestion and scheduling tools write your social media updates for you. Don’t just press send. Say why you’re sharing it. Inject some of your brand personality.


Don’t overdo LinkedIn. Do overdo Twitter. Twitter’s like a river; LinkedIn isn’t.


Get a system for storing your stuff on the go. I use Bookmarks on my browser and Pocket on my phone. This is where I head first on a Monday morning.

Interested in finding out more about content curation? These are the best recent posts on the subject.

And here’s one that’s come in from my mate Jeff while I’ve been sleeping on this blog post:

I’m getting an average of 20 people a day following me on Twitter at the moment, many influential, through the quality and relevance of the content I curate for Zude PR.

My name’s Dave @zudepr

Glasgow PR man and content curator David Sawyer

I’m a multi-award-winning Glasgow PR guy offering media relations, content marketing and SEO advice to clients across the UK.

I would be really interested in finding out others’ experience of curating content for their business or their clients.

Head over to if you are interested in finding out more or call me on +44 (0)1415690342.

Or sign up to my newsletter for great posts like this one and a weekly digest of the four best pieces of digital PR content I’ve read over the past week.

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P.S. I found myself curating my own content last Friday, after I was approached by PR industry bible PR Daily to publish one of my first blogs on their website.

Loving the fact that my PR Daily post came through in my daily ContentGems email on Saturday. One of 20 recommended Public Relations articles. That’s the modern-day PR equivalent of having your press release rewritten and picked up by the Press Association or Reuters, still The Holy Grail when you’re trying to get a client’s story out there in traditional media.


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