Adam Fisher
22nd October 2018 - 7 mins read
O

f course, when Mr Zinsser started writing, he had little more than a typewriter for technological support.

Producing and creating content remains difficult, but the modern writer does have access to a range of online tools which can improve their writing and help them find inspiration.

Here are some of our favourites:



Grammarly

This is probably the best-known writing tool, so we won’t spend too much time discussing it.

It is essentially a proofreading tool which automatically spots grammar, spelling, punctuation and even style mistakes.

When it suggests a correction it also provides an explanation. This means the writer can make a well-informed decision on whether or not they will make that change.

You can copy and paste text into Grammarly’s Editor or install a free browser extension.



Cliché Finder

We’re all guilty of including words and phrases in our writing which might be a bit trite or overused.

Cliché Finder is a free, simple, tool which helps you to identify those expressions before your work gets published.

I used it on a blog I recently wrote and it instantly identified the expressions ‘over the years’.  Not only did this prompt me to remove this from the work, but it also means I will be more conscious about using the phrase in the future, ultimately improving my writing.



Hemmingway Editor

This is a bit like the newspaper sub-editor who has been doing the job for years and just knows how to make copy better even when there is nothing grammatically wrong.

The emphasis is on making writing short and punchy by highlighting complicated words, dull sentences, passive voice, and adverbs.

And it is easy to use. If you see a yellow sentence, it needs to be shortened; if it is red it is too complicated; purple means a shorter word could be used, and blue is used to highlight adverbs and weak phrases.



CoShedule’s Headline Analyzer

Headlines are important.

A good one will entice readers to your content, while one that fails to hit the mark could prevent people from clicking – a real shame if the article that sits below is strong.

But constantly producing eye-catching headlines isn’t easy.

The good news is there is help readily available.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer breaks down your headline in terms of structure, grammar, and readability.

Headlines are scored out of 100 with points gained for the use of ‘common’, ‘uncommon’, ‘emotional’ and ‘power’ words and phrases.



Hub spot Blog topic generator

When the dreaded writer’s block strikes, you need to find inspiration.

And tech can sometimes provide the answer.

There are a few blog topic generators around but Hubspot’s Blog Ideas Generator is probably the best one.

Simply type a few phrases into the boxes and the algorithm does the rest.

Putting ‘words’, ‘content’ and ‘ideas’ into the system came up with the following options:

 

1 Think You're Cut Out For Doing Content? Take This Quiz

2 The Worst Advice We've Ever Heard About Words

3 Tools Everyone In The Ideas Industry Should Be Using

4 Quick Tips About Content

5 Best Blogs To Follow About Words

 

As you can see, the ideas they generate aren’t always brilliant, but the third suggestion is very similar to this blog.

This tool is free and even if the suggestions do not always hit the mark, it could just come up with an idea you can develop.



Wordcounter

This website offers more than its uninspiring name might suggest.

As well as providing a running total of the number of words and characters – useful if you have a minimum or maximum total you need to reach – its main benefit is showing whether your writing has become a bit repetitive.

The system shows how often you have used each word, giving you the opportunity to provide some alternative options.

Additionally, it provides you with a reading and speaking time for your writing - ideal if you are preparing a speech.  



Power Thesaurus

Once you’ve identified the words you are using a little too often, you may need some help finding alternative options.

There are plenty of online thesauruses, with Thesaurus.com being the biggest. But I prefer the crowd sourced Power Thesaurus for a more user-friendly experience and fewer adverts.



Urban dictionary

Not every definition in the Urban Dictionary is going to be suitable for your writing, particularly if you have an audience which may be easily offended. Some definitions are, let’s just say ‘educational’.

But, if you are looking for a definition of a word or phrase that is new or has different meanings to different people, it can be a useful tool.

When I wrote a blog for our sister company Media First about spokespeople repeatedly using the phrase ‘deeply concerned’, Urban Dictionary provided the perfect definition to give my content a little more edge.

It defined the phrase as: “An expression used in PR, especially political, when the person or organization is expected to care about a situation and comment on it, but they don't actually give a s**t, because the situation in question isn't particularly relevant to them, but it is politically imprudent to say that outright.”



Coffitivity

Sometimes writers just need to find a way of boosting their creativity.

Personally, when I’m struggling for inspiration, or just need some background noise, I plug in the headphones and let Guns N’ Roses destroy what remains of my hearing.

I appreciate though that others may have a different (not better) taste in music, or just need something a little more soothing.

This is where Coffitivity comes into its own. It recreates the ‘ambient’ sounds of a café to create a pleasant working environment. Not only that, but there is a range of coffee sounds to help you get in the mood, including some from Paris and Brazil.



BrainyQuote

Adding pertinent quotes from famous writers, politicians and entrepreneurs can be a great way of adding more depth to your writing and inspiring your audience.

You’ll notice that I included a quote at the start of this blog and in other posts I have quoted the likes of John F Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain and Maya Angelou among others.

Of course, it is not always easy to remember who the quote originally came from or whether you recalled it correctly.

This is where BrainyQuote comes in handy. The site not only enables you to check back on famous quotes but also search for more by topics, authors, and people in the news.



Word

It is not just going online that can improve writing. The ever-dependable Word also offers some useful tools.

The Flesch Reading Ease score uses the number of words in a sentence and the number of syllables in each word to calculate how easy it is to read a document. The lower the score, the more difficult the text is to read and ideally you should aim for a score of between 60 and 70.

The second check, known as the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, is an equation which tells you how many years of education someone needs to understand your content.

The grade score is based on the American grade system and essentially you need to add five to your grade to find the reading age of your content.

To find your score, simply go to the ‘file’ menu, then ‘options’ and then on to the ‘proofing’ tab.

Under the ‘when correcting spelling and grammar in Word’ heading you need to tick the box which says ‘show readability statistics’.

Then when you run a spelling and grammar check you will find the two readability scores.

 

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper.

Marketing

How live event reporting can boost your content strategy

Adam Fisher 20th July 2018 — 5 mins read
S

o let’s take it back to the beginning. Live event reporting is essentially what journalists do every day, but now are doing for a specific organisation and event rather than for a media outlet.

It involves them being paid by the client (typically a brand) to cover an event such as a conference, trade show, charity fundraising initiative or new product launch and providing live updates, interviews, social media content and videos.

Let’s say you are an insurance company and you sponsor a sporting event such as a triathlon. That event will demand promotion, regular updates and will attract competitors and spectators all with stories to tell, providing a potentially rich vein of human interest content.

You may have already seen live event reporting in action through Apple and Tesla product launches, but more brands are starting to embrace it.

Here is why we not only think it should be added to your content marketing strategy but also how it will bring added value to your next event.

 

Build anticipation

Carefully crafted internal messages and social media posts can have a big impact on creating interest and excitement in your event before it kicks off.

A designated live event reporting team which is entirely focused on the event can help to enthuse not only those who are attending but also those who cannot make the event in person.

The posts can promote speakers, the topics which will be discussed, and offer a behind-the-scenes look as final preparations are made.

It may sound odd, but there are a lot of football clubs who do this well, building anticipation among their fans who cannot attend the match by sharing photos of players and coaches arriving at the ground, the warm-up routine and the starting team announcement for example.

A key point here is to have a single specific hashtag for your event if you are going to use social media channels.

This will make it easier for people to find what you are sharing and join in the conversation.

 

Wider audience

For some organisations, no matter how hard they try or want it to happen, it can simply be logistically impossible to get everyone together in the same place at the same time.

And it can be hard to capture the attention of those unable to attend.

But live reporting, with blogging and video coverage can give those unable to make it a sense of what is unfolding as it happens, creating a level of engagement that a traditional post-event report could not achieve.

 

Extending the buzz

For many events it can be important for the reach to extend beyond the four walls of the conference room or the event location.

It may be of interest to stakeholders, customers and potential customers.

Using social media channels to tell other users you are reporting live from an event can create a real online buzz and help amplify reach.

The word ‘live’ is important in these types of social media posts. It adds urgency and importance to messages and can help cut through the noise.

 

More than just a one-day event

There is a misconception that live reporting stops being useful once the event comes to an end.

But in our experience, this couldn’t be more wrong.

The interviews and footage gathered at the event can provide a rich pool of content which can be used throughout the coming weeks and months for both internal and external audiences.

For example, interviews can be used for the basis of blogs, or they can be turned into short video clips which can be used on social media channels.

 

Stand-out

Live reporting an event is something which can really make an organisation stand-out and highlight it as a brand with industry expertise.

It is still a relatively new concept, which means that using it can help organisations differentiate themselves from their competitors and show their ingenuity.

It could also lead to further speaker opportunities for your spokespeople, potentially helping the business to grow.

 

Better feedback

Not only does live reporting of your event increase its longevity, but it also increases the opportunity for constructive feedback.

The repurposed content you gain from the event can be used to elicit ideas on what went well and what people would like to see changed for the event.

Not only could this generate some good suggestions, but it also helps position the organisation as one which is willing to listen and embrace opinions which may help it improve.

 

Why use journalists for live reporting?

Live reporting can be challenging and exhausting.

We believe journalists are best placed to meet the demands of this format.

They will be able to carry out independent and newsworthy interviews with senior leaders, speakers and audience members.

They are skilled at gathering and filtering huge quantities of information and quickly getting to the heart of a story and are used to producing content quickly.

And they can self-edit and have the ability to adapt and reuse content for different channels – a crucial skill in maximising the impact and life of live event reporting content.

If we think back to the insurance company sponsoring a sporting event, which we mentioned at the start, could their comms team, which is likely to be stretched with managing the media around the event, capture all that potentially great content? Or would a team of experienced journalists, parachuted in to focus purely on that event, be better placed?

 

Get in touch to find out how our live event reporting team can add value to your next event.

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper.

Tom Idle
28th February 2020 - 6 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.