Adam Fisher
15th January 2019 - 6 mins read
B

ut it is not just those in content marketing who face the pressure of having to write quality content on demand.

Journalists have to create attention grabbing-content every day.

So what skills can we steal from them to make our content better?

 

Keep it simple

One of the lessons I learned as a young journalist which really stuck with me was the need to keep my writing simple.

Good newspaper articles are concise, contain simple language and use basic sentence structures.

The simpler an article is to read the more people will be able to understand what it is saying. The average reading age of the UK population is generally considered to be around nine years.

And this is pertinent to content marketing.

All too often organisations inadvertently opt for content which creates barriers to comprehension and detracts from the message.

Let’s take something I saw from Lloyds Banks just before I settled down to write this blog. It was a quote in a document from chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio.

It said: “Our differentiated, customer focussed business model continues to deliver with our multi brand, multi-channel approach, cost leadership, low risk positioning, investment capacity and execution capabilities positioning us well for sustainable success in a digital world.”

There is so much about that sentence I don’t like. But the key issue is that no matter how often I read it, it does not make sense. And that is a real problem. If people don’t understand the content you produce they won’t stick with it.

So lose the big words, keep the sentences tight.

 

Write how you talk

This follows on quite nicely from the importance of keeping writing simple, because one of the best ways to do that is to focus on using the same language you use when you speak.

If I’m struggling to write something I think about how I would say it.

The other benefit of this approach is that it creates a chatty, informal style and natural flow – something journalists strive for in their stories.

To help achieve this, grammar rules sometimes go out of the window. For example, sentences can often start with ‘and’.

 

Research

In many cases, for journalists, the writing is actually the shortest part of the process of putting a story together.

Reporters spend lots of time gathering, looking at and assessing the validity of information in search of a story. This could be sourcing facts and figures, studying data and interviewing experts.

The more research you put into your content the more it will tell your readers things they don’t already know.

And that is a crucial way of ensuring it will stand out from all the other content which is available. 

 

Interview

Here’s a question. How many blogs do you see which include comments from a real person? How many newspaper stories do you see that don’t feature people?

One of the key differences between content and newspaper stories is that the stories always feature people.

And people are predominantly brought into stories through interviews.

Whether it is people in your own organisation or key influencers in the sector, getting the views, opinions and personalities of other people into your content can offer your readers something strong and different, as well as breathe life and add fresh impetus into existing content ideas.

A journalist’s contacts book is something they rely on heavily. Look through your contacts and consider who you could interview for your content.

You can find out more about using interviews in your content in this earlier blog.

 

Human

The way we consume stories and content has changed. Newspaper sales are in decline and people increasingly rely on social media and the internet to find out what is going on in the world.

But despite this evolution there is a constant – people still want stories about other people.

Human interest stories remain as powerful as ever, which is why ‘how does this affect people?’ is still the phrase you will hear most often in a newsroom.

And it is a key in producing content which draws in readers and keeps them engaged.

 

Inverted pyramid

The inverted pyramid is a writing model used by journalists to show how stories should be structured so that they get the most attention.

Essentially it shows that the most newsworthy part should be at the beginning. So; who, what, where, when, why and how are the questions journalists will look to answer in their opening paragraphs.

The next stage of the inverted pyramid structure is the important details and supporting information, including quotes and statistics. And the pyramid base is the general and background information.

The beauty of this structure is its simplicity which ensures stories are easy to follow for readers. If people can’t follow what you are writing then they quickly lose interest.

The only change to this structure for a content marketing point of view is that the last part of the pyramid should include some form of a call to action.

 

Focus on what’s new

If you consider what makes something newsworthy, then timeliness or topicality would be one of the crucial components.

We want to know the latest news and the latest trends. We are not interested in a rehash of something we already know.

So, look to bring your readers something new. Perhaps some new insight or a new way of looking at things. Or look to use topics that people are currently talking about to show how your product or service could have made a difference.

 

Thesaurus

A thesaurus can be a valuable tool for a journalist, but it’s one that comes with a note of caution.

A good reporter will use it to avoid annoying repetition in their writing, by finding alternative words.

But it is crucial it is not used to find more complicated words to make your writing appear more intelligent.

As a content marketer you are writing to inform and generate interest. But that will not happen if the audience does not understand the words you use.

 

Edit

Always ask yourself whether you could say the same thing in your writing without using as many words.

Journalists look to make their copy as tight as possible and similarly, you should look to edit your own content without fear.

This doesn’t mean you should always produce short-form content. It is about ensuring the words you use are the most effective. For example, the word ‘very’ often isn’t needed. ‘Many’ is tighter than ‘a lot of’.

I don’t think I have ever seen a journalist read their writing aloud in the newsroom, but if you can find somewhere quiet this is a good tip. If you find yourself falling over your words and struggling for breath then you need to simplify and rework your sentences. 

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 a podcast or email marketing.

Marketing

7 reasons your organisation should produce an eBook

Adam Fisher 10th December 2018 — 4 mins read
E

lectronic books, or eBooks as they are more commonly known, occupy the middle ground of the content world, between the shorter and more regularly produced blogs and the more formal, often academic approach, taken in whitepapers.

It is a format which has enjoyed something of a boom in recent years and it looks set for further success.

What exactly is an eBook?

When we talk about an eBook we are not talking about the publications you read through a device like a Kindle.

The eBooks we refer to are produced by businesses and typically come in PDF format.

They enable brands to explore a topic in deeper detail – often aimed at solving a problem customers may be experiencing - but through an easy-to-read style.

And producing them has many benefits.

So without further ado, here are seven reasons why your organisation should produce an eBook.

 

Cover a topic in more detail

If you are already regularly blogging, you are probably tackling topics in somewhere between 500 to 1,500 words.

An eBook enables you to tackle topics in much more depth, usually starting at around 5,000 words or around 20 pages.

This gives plenty of scope to educate, entertain and engage readers and potential customers.

Longer form content can appear daunting to a reader – many would be put off by a 5,000 word blog for example.

But putting it in the format of a well-designed eBook, which is supported by eye-catching design, will make them more likely to download it and read when they have time.

Not only that, but an information-driven, educational eBook could become a resource they refer to again and again.

This creates brand loyalty, enhance the reputation of the band and the connection the customer has with it and ultimately helps to drive revenue.  

 

Showcase expertise

Producing an eBook can help position your organisation as a thought leader in its industry and showcase its expertise.

Tackling important issues which matter to your customers in detail not only reveals a deeper level of understanding but will also encourage prospects to view your organisation as a trusted source of information and as a problem solver.

This in turn helps organisations cultivate the credibility customers look for.

 

Generate revenue

eBooks are a great way to generate new leads that could lead to new sales.

In return for your carefully crafted insight, potential customers typically need to provide their email address for the download link.

In some cases they may also be required to provide other details such as job role and phone number.

That means an organisation now have valuable information about someone who has expressed an interest in your content.

They are also a great tool for sales teams to use to generate interest and new business.

 

Reusable content

One of the great benefits of an eBook is that it provides a lot of content which can be repurposed and recycled in blogs.

I have written a few eBooks for our sister company Media First and I have been able to take parts from each one, whether it is a chapter, section or even just a paragraph, and turn that into a blog at later date.

For example, one I wrote on the importance of preparing for a media crisis has led to blogs on holding statements, risk register, the importance of communicating internally and identifying the right spokesperson.

Additionally, they also provide plenty of reusable content for social media teams.

 

Rise above the competition

Not only do eBooks provide another channel to promote your organisation, but they are also something many of your rivals may not be using.

There are plenty of blogs out there, for example, but how many companies in your sector go beyond that?

So, not only do they help to ensure your brand stands out, but they could also help you tap into a wider audience.

 

Retains its value

An eBook is an item of content which retains its value.

Unless it is on a particularly time sensitive subject, it can stay on your website indefinitely generating leads and interest.

You can also keep referring back to it in blogs to attract new readers and post about it on social media.

At the very worst you may just need to update it occasionally.

 

You may already be half-way there

If you are already regularly producing content like blogs then you may already be well on your way to producing an eBook.

Your existing content could form the basis of your eBook and may just need some repositioning, a slightly different angle, more detail and some good design.

 

In summary, eBooks are premium content which should form part of your content marketing strategy.  If they don’t, your customers may just find the information they are looking for through a rival organisation’s eBook.

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 an eBook.

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.