In journalism, there's something called a "beat." A beat is a specific topic that a reporter covers, like education, religion, crime, or small business. A beat is similar to a niche or a realm of specialization. When diving into journalism on your own accord, either as a blogger, and online publication, or a company doing brand journalism, you need to determine your beat or niche. Although a beat narrows your range of topics, it makes it easier to cover those topics in the long run. With a beat, you can nurture relationships with your most valuable sources, like the school superintendent for education, or the police chief for crime. With a beat, you can utilize any previous research that you've come across, and eventually tap facts and figures from memory. With a beat, you can develop your blog, online publication, or company as the go-to place on that topic and attract the attention of others.
A beat can be general, like the ones I previously mentioned, or specific such as one particular company or sports team. If you're a business doing some brand journalism, then obviously, your company would be your beat. However, you may want to include your industry in that as well.
Something to keep in mind when working on your beat is to provide stories that are in the best interest of your reader, not simply those of interest to the source or company. This might mean showcasing the other side, asking the tough questions, or taking a different angle. Also keep in mind that when covering a beat, stick to the beat as much as possible. It may be tempting from time to time to cover a big breaking news story or another trending topic, but doing so does not serve the readers. The point of a beat is to cover a topic others aren't covering, or to cover it in a way that others aren't, providing a unique value or perspective. Covering something everyone is talking about, simply for the sake of sales or page views, goes against that purpose.
The point of a beat is to find stories rather than follow them. As a blogger, an online publication, or a company wanting to write and to produce news, finding stories is not only good journalism, but it allows you to find a story that hasn't been found before. A beat fits perfectly into today's growing need of valuable content tailored toward the interests of readers. Improve yourself and your blog or online publication with a beat today.