How To Be A Content Curation Master

 7 Content Curation Formats Every Marketer Needs

Content curation masterContent marketers take note: As host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, Jon Stewart proved he was a content curation master.

While many believed that The Daily Show attracted the elusive 18 to 35 demographic solely to get the news, the reality was that their key viewers had already culled their news information from a variety of non-traditional sources such as blogs, newsletters and social media.

Viewers turned to Jon Stewart not for the news. They already knew it. Daily Show fans sought Stewart’s unique brand of incisive insights. In an interview during a presidential election, Stewart was asked if he cared who won. His response: “it didn’t matter since there’d be news to discuss no matter who won.

Jon Stewart didn’t make news (with a few key exceptions) nor did he produce a news show.

Instead, Jon Stewart curated the news with the limited resources of a show on basic cable to create must-see content.

Stewart produced a high quality half-hour show 4 days a week based on curating the previous day’s news on a basic cable budget. Translation: Limited resources. (Sound familiar?)–2015—jon-stewart-s-final-episode

5 Ways The Daily Show With Jon Stewart is content curation

The Daily Show was curated content for the following 5 reasons.

1. Culled through the past 24 hours of news to select the most important stories

Editorial choice is a key component of any content curation strategy. Follow the less-is-more approach. It saves your audience time, their most valuable asset.

2. Presented different points of view for each story

Gave the viewer a well-rounded offering of available information. Stewart showed more than one side of each issue through the use of short media clips.

3. Created visuals to enhance the story’s parody or satire

Daily Show graphics had a meme-like quality to them. There’s nothing like a visual or video to get your message across in a powerful, easy-to-understand way. Adding graphics is a key element of content curation that makes the message your own.

4. Added commentary that forced his audience to think

Stewart didn’t spoon feed his audience. He had thought about the issues and asked intelligent questions. While his presentation was funny and entertaining, the subject matter was serious. Providing your perspective is a critical aspect of curation. It gives your audience insights into why the piece is important to them.

5. Edited content to be a unified piece

Despite the different sources of curated content input, Stewart’s presentation always had a consistent story as if he had created the entire piece himself.

BTW, here’s how curated content beats original content.

5 Attributes that made Jon Stewart a content curation masterJon Stewart 2005-Content Curation master

How did a stand up comic become a content curation master?

He developed these 5 key elements. Study them so that you can apply them to your content curation marketing.

1. Create a persona

Jon Stewart looked the part of a highly paid news anchor. Stewart didn’t wear a small market weatherman’s vision-in-polyester suit or a stand up comic’s t-shirt and jeans.

The Daily Show’s credits revealed Stewart’s clothes were provided by Giorgio Armani.

When Stewart appeared on other shows, most notably CNN’s Crossfire, he wore business casual like the comic he was. By doing so, he underscored his fake news persona.

BTW, here’s the Crossfire video since it’s must-see viewing for marketers.


Actionable Content Curation Marketing Tip:

  • Consider how you want your company’s spokesperson to look. Answer the questions: What will gain him respect from your target audience and what props will he or she need?


2. Built a team

Stewart and his team made creating a half hour show 4 times a week, every week look easy. He attracted a team of writers, researchers, comics and others to help him behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera. During the writers’ strike, the lack of help showed.

Actionable Content Curation Marketing Tip:

  • Look for talent outside of the marketing department. How can other employees contribute to your content curation efforts?

3. Developed a standardized structure

Most Daily Shows consisted of 5 segments: Stewart’s opening monologue, news clips, feature story, interview and Stewart’s Moment of Zen. Some of these segments consisted of different formats. This added variety to the show making it interesting.

Actionable Content Curation Marketing Tip:

  • Think like a media entity. Create regular features. What do your readers want to know that’s related to your company and products? Skip the sales talk.

4. Attract influencers

At first Stewart invited friends to be interviewed like a late night show.

Over time, thought leaders, statesmen, politicians, celebrities, authors and others clamored to appear. His guests included Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter.

Check out this full Daily Show dedicated to an interview with sitting President Barack Obama.–2015—barack-obama

Actionable Content Curation Marketing Tip:

5. Invite fans to join him

The Daily Show aimed to be inclusive.

Anyone could attend a Daily Show screening in New York City via a form on their website. The exception was the last show where Stewart asked people to donate to a not-for-profit to raise money for autism.

The Daily Show was one of the first shows to send viewers online for additional content. Stewart allowed his interviews to take the time they needed. His team later edited the content for television and put the rest on the web. 

Actionable Content Curation Marketing Tip:

  • Encourage your customers to engage and participate. Don’t assume that they’re paying attention. Use email and social media to get their attention. Here’s how to distribute content curation.

Master content curator

Jon Stewart was a master content curator.

Before you complain that you don’t have a television-sized budget, remember that Stewart was on basic cable.

To appreciate the low budget approach, watch John Oliver’s Next Week Tonight on HBO. He has a bigger budget and it shows. (BTW, here’s what I wrote about John Oliver.) As an example, here’s John Oliver on Net Neutrality.

Here’s what Stewart did that you can adapt for your curated content marketing.

1. Provide a fresh view and perspective on the news

Stewart’s team was the master of the mashup. They used it to make a point.

Don’t mock your competitors or your customers. Instead, show a mix of what’s new and offer insights your audience can use.

2. Interview the people your audience wants to hear from

This is a no brainer. Not sure who your audience admires? Ask them for suggestions.

Then take a page from the Jon Stewart playbook: Do your homework. Read their stuff and find out who they are by checking social media and Google.

Respect your guests and have intelligent questions.

3. Develop an on-going series

The Daily Show created many on-going stories. They pumped them up by giving them great names such as the Indecision series for the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections.

4. Invite regular commentators

Stewart had a cadre of regular comics such as John Hodgman, Larry Wilmore and Lewis Black who acted like specialists. They gave their insights on recent events.

I love this commentary on Net Neutrality which plays on the fact that Hodgman plays a PC in the Mac ads.

5. Question the man on the street

Stewart’s team would take a cameraperson and ask ordinary people what they thought on a specific topic. Sometimes they did this in a studio setting like a focus group.

In this controversial clip on the Washington Redskins, Stewart admits that people changed their mind about their comments later.–name—catching-racism

You can apply this to your customers. Just make sure you get permission to use people’s images and comments before publishing them.

6. Do in-depth stories

While most Daily Show reporting was done in front of a green screen with a photograph overlay, periodically they sent comics to a location to do their version of investigative reporting.

One of my favorites was The Daily Show’s Jason Jones’ reporting from Wasila, Alaska.

7. Be real

When times required it, Stewart stepped out of character and said what he thought. The result was always moving.

Here’s how Stewart talks about the sadness following the Charleston church shooting earlier this year.


The content curation master bottom line: Take a page from Jon Stewart’s playbook.

Content curation can help you to extend your marketing budget to create must-read quality content.

Follow Stewart’s examples and tips to get your content curation marketing on track to engage your target audience.

What is your favorite content curation tip and why?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


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