By Scott Aughtmon published June 22, 2020 Est Read Time: 7 min

5 Content Lessons From John Krasinski’s Some Good News

Have you ever had a good idea but didn’t have the time or energy to do anything with it?

That happened to John Krasinski back in 2013 when the actor had the idea for a news show focused on good news.

Fast forward to 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Stuck at home, John decided to bring his idea to life.

After self-financing and producing the first episode, John debuted Some Good News (SGN) on March 29 on YouTube:

In that first episode, John revealed his purpose and made a confession:

“… I reached out to all of you this week, asking – nay, begging – for some good news. And boy, did you deliver.

“After reading those replies and the incredibly heartwarming stories that came with them, I thought, ‘All right. Enough is enough, world. Why not us? Why not now?’

“So, ladies and gentlemen, this is your fault, and this is ‘SGN.’ I’m John Krasinski, and if it isn’t clear yet, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.”

Overnight, SGN accumulated 330,000 subscribers. By the eighth episode – originally planned to be the last – the simple, low-budget show (with many high-profile stars) had over 2 million subscribers on its Some Good News YouTube channel.

Following a massive bidding war, ViacomCBS purchased SGN. John will continue as an executive producer but not as its permanent host. Though news of the sale met with criticism of selling out, John explained he needed a partner to keep SGN going, as he had to return to his regular work. The ViacomCBS deal was a good opportunity to reach even more people with good news, he said.

The story of SGN contains a powerful lesson for any content creator and content marketer: Audiences respond to hopeful, positive, and fun content.

The story of @johnkrasinski’s @somegoodnews contains a powerful lesson for any #content marketer, says @rampbusinesses via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

To help you deliver that type of content, I share the formula and lessons I observed while watching the eight episodes.

The SGN series follows a simple formula to attract and retain the audience:

  • Tell them – John told people there was still good in the world. He did it in every show.
  • Show them – He showed examples of the good happening in different places and with different people.
  • Bring it to them – He didn’t stop at telling and showing. He became part of the audience’s experiences through virtual graduation celebrations, a wedding, and more.

Now, let’s explore how that formula translates into five tips that every content marketer should know.

1. Focus on the message, not the production

Though COVID-19 stay-at-home mandates gave John an excuse for the videos looking homemade, the phenomenal audience reaction shows that people don’t care more about production quality than they do about the powerful and hopeful message.

Don’t believe this is true? I heard one marketer reveal that his cheesy YouTube thumbnails got a lot more clicks than the professional ones he later paid to have made. This same marketer says a fan-created video outperformed a commercial that cost $100,000 to have produced.

SGN example

A snippet from Episode 6 shows John’s lack of concern for perfection when fans begin to complain about a mistake of his. Watch it here.

Application

To create powerful, hopeful, and inspiring content quickly, spend 80% of your time on refining the message so your audience feels it. Then spend the remaining 20% making sure the quality is as good as it can be.

2. Create and curate

If you pay close attention to what John did with SGN content, you notice one thing he didn’t do. He didn’t create all of the content by himself. He created some new content, but he also used other people’s content – curating and sharing their images, tweets, video clips, etc.

[email protected] didn’t create all new #content for @somegoodnews. He curated it too, says @rampbusinesses via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

He did this in an ethical way. Sometimes he shared the source and Twitter handle. Other times, he shined the spotlight on the creator by inviting them on the show.

SGN example

Episode 3 includes a segment featuring tweets, images, and news coverage of businesses and individuals creating and delivering supplies for health care workers.  Watch it here.

Application

To curate content successfully, spend a good amount of your time interacting with your audience members and thinking of ways to logically incorporate their content into your content platforms.

The added benefit of content curation? It encourages the people whose content you shared to share your content with others.

3. Invite partners, friends, influencers to join you

John sees other “good news” sites and networks like Tank’s Good News and Good News Network not as competitors but as content partners. He incorporated them into SGN.

He also brought on his famous friends like Steve Carell, Oprah Winfrey, John Stewart, the cast of Hamilton, and Steven Spielberg.

SGN example

In Episode 4, John creatively involved influencers, including Chance the Rapper and Rainn Wilson, to entertain his audience with a virtual prom. Watch it here.

Application

To create content that gets attention and reaches beyond your company’s sphere, think about how to incorporate friends of your business and influencers into your content.

4. Encourage audience participation

But John did more than curate content and enlist the help of influencers. From the beginning, he asked viewers to send in their ideas, stories, etc. – and he used them. That move made the show theirs, not just his. 

When people began to create art and copycat shows, he didn’t get bothered (or litigious), he featured them on SGN.

SGN example

In this segment from Episode 2, John takes and acts on the input from a viewer who tweeted about his introduction. Watch it here.

Application

Go beyond involving partners and influencers in your content, invite your audience to create it. In other words, give them a spot on your platform.

Take a lesson from @somegoodnews: Invite your audience to create #content, says @rampbusinesses via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

5. Have fun

John made the content irresistible because he wrapped it all in fun. Viewers could tell he enjoyed creating and curating the content. He helped his guests have fun. He caused the people watching it to have fun.

That’s a powerful technique. In the middle of a pandemic, his content stood out in part because it was unique, an alternative in a sea of depressing content.

SGN example

John turned one tweet into a fun surprise for a 9-year-old who missed her birthday trip to see Hamilton and watched a favorite movie, Mary Poppins Returns (starring John’s wife Emily Blunt and Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda). The result put a smile not only on the little girl’s face but also on the faces of the millions who watched the fun unfold. Watch it here.

Application

It’s almost always OK to have some fun with your content. Reflect on what surprises, laughs, and other delights your content can deliver. Does it involve an experience for one that you capture to share with many? Or can it simply bring a silent chuckle to a reader? Think about the options as they relate to your industry, audience, etc.

It’s almost always OK to have some fun with your #content, says @rampbusinesses via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

One more thing

Do you know the best thing about this type of content? It’s a joy to create. The result isn’t just an appreciative audience that cheerfully follows you. Something magical happens. You will be filled with more hope.

Audience experience is just one of the topics at the ContentTECH Summit this August. See the full agenda and make your plans to attend today.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Scott Aughtmon

Scott Aughtmon is the author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. He is the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave and has discovered some of the earliest known examples of content marketing. He is a marketing strategist, consultant, content marketer, and speaker. He’s been studying effective marketing, direct marketing, and business methods since 1999. After teaching marketing for UC Berkeley Extension, he saw a connection between direct response marketing and content marketing which led him to develop a form of marketing called “direct response content marketing”. Read more of Scott's insights on his site DirectResponseContentMarketing.com. Follow Scott on Twitter @rampbusinesses.

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