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When it comes to the web, curation is the process of hand-selecting, organizing and presenting content, to improve user experience. Today’s curators are subject matter experts who take the time to carefully review and thoughtfully determine which material has the most relevance and value to site visitors.

The best curators are almost always human.

Even content platform giants like YouTube, Amazon, Facebook and Apple have embraced a human-curated model of content recommendation. Digiflare, a technology company specializing in content display and user engagement recently wrote in a post that users will be compelled by content that is hand-selected by real people, and that they will form a better connection with that services based on trust and an authentic experience.

That said, with the abundance of information out there, algorithm-based curation is often used to create a “good enough” solution. Netflix and Spotify are using automated algorithms to personalize their user experience. In an interviewwith news site Business Insider, Netflix’ vice president of product innovation Chris Jaffe says that the platform has about 90 seconds to convince the user to watch something before they abandon the service and move onto something else. This timeliness is one reason why an automated algorithm works best for them. Netflix has also introduced variants into the mix so that the experience isn’t too over-personalized for users. For example, Jaffe likes dark TV dramas, so every now and then it will offer him a documentary or comedy to let him know that there’s more to Netflix than just dark TV dramas.   While they sometimes get it right, they sometimes also get it wrong – to hilarious ends.

Image courtesy of Tumblr, charmingorangutan, via Mashable


Which type of curation is more efficient? It boils down to a company’s needs.

However, even though automated curation has its advantages, one thing to bear in mind is that content curation isn’t just about aggregating large amounts of content. Peter Sweeney, founder of artificial intelligence company Primal, suggests that, “It’s a process of storytelling, organization and editorial around your company’s brand and purpose that creates a landscape of audience engagement.” We have yet to see a machine or an algorithm fully understand the concept of quality content. And as Michael Silberman, general manager of digital media at New York magazine points out, “Humans are pretty good at figuring out what other humans are going to be interested in clicking.”

This partially explains why CNW uses content curation to beef up its online newswire feed, creating a news site that strives to attract more readers by promoting the most compelling content of the day to the site’s home page.


Then and Now


This is prime real estate for anyone seeking attention on their news, as lead stories can garner up to 2000% more views on than non-featured releases!

While certain components of the site are automatically populated, such as the “Popular Blog Posts” and “Thought Leadership” sections, the “Featured News Release” area on our homepage is curated 3 times per day, and that’s where CNW’s editorial team comes into play. Throughout the day, the team scans the newswire feed looking for feature-worthy content. The process requires editorial judgement and awareness of topics trending outside of the realm and it appeals to the team’s skills for spotting newsworthiness.

The team also curates several “Hot Topics” sections, which reflect popular and timely topics which, for various reasons, are highly represented within news releases moving across the wire. For example, we are currently featuring Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation as it’s a primary talking point for many CNW clients right now, as well as company earnings for Q4 2016. The industry news pages are also curated, pulling the most compelling content by industry to the forefront of those pages.



How to grab the attention of CNW’s curators

It often starts with a great headline. Is it topical? Newsworthy? Fun? Our curators look for those that will catch the attention of readers and entice them to click in and read on. Headlines should be brief (under 100 characters) and descriptive, as our content management platform will ultimately create a page URL using that headline. Not only does this help improve your release’s SEO, but it also makes it more tweetable. If you need more news release headline advice, check out this guide.



Our curators are also huge fans of compelling imagery. Some news releases are featured solely because of an awesome photograph!  Great multimedia also drives engagement, social shares and media pick-up. In a study commissioned by CPRS Toronto 2016, nearly half of journalists indicated that they are likely to use multimedia from news releases in their news stories. On social, tweets with images typically receive 150% more retweets than ones without images. Facebook posts with images receive 2.3x more engagement than text-only posts.

About Melissa Meyer

Melissa Meyer is Cision’s Manager of Community and oversees Cision’s online customer community, Cision City. She has over 5 years’ experience in PR, writing, community and social media management. You can find her chatting about all thing PR, pop culture and basketball @_MelissaMeyer

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