As public relations and marketing professionals, we write a lot… and that is an understatement. No matter what we write, we make sure to follow writing processes to help us develop creative, compelling copy that reaches our target audience effectively. These processes may be different depending on the writer, but following are a few key considerations to help you develop your own personal writing process.
Prepare before you type. Spend time with your good ol’ pen and paper. Create a simple outline or organize your information in a logical way. Short and sweet, this outline should include the purpose/intent, main message, as well as a few supporting examples/outlying thoughts. Consider it a framework.
Primary vs. Secondary. Determine what information is primary and what is secondary. Develop your main message and then expand. Always remember who your audience is and why you are writing. If you feel yourself going off base on tangents, look back at your outline to help keep you focused.
Write with precision. Do not lose your audience by rambling one-off thoughts that do not tie into your main message. Details are picturesque, but remember that too much fluff can result in mixed messages.
Don’t rely on spelling and grammar checks. In the age of mighty word processing software that underlines every grammar faux pas, it is easy to begin typing and hope thoughts translate accurately to the written word. Make sure your writing makes sense to humans – not just the computer.
Step far away. After you have finished writing – close the document and, literally or figuratively, step away. Focus on something else for a bit. Share it with a co-worker or friend to get another pair of eyes on it. When you return to edit, you will notice any imperfections or oddly worded sentence/ideas.
Do you have any tips for the writing process? Share them here or tweet @RachelKaylor.
I love the term “data mining”. I can almost picture a group of industrious businessmen in hard hats shoveling away in the heat and darkness, barely able to breathe, just for the chance to discover an elusive bit of information that will not only invade my privacy, but will also state the obvious.
Who knew that consumers willing to pay more for the elegance of an Apple computer might also be willing to pay more for other items, like hotels? That shocking revelation is brought to you courtesy of Orbitz. What’s next: people who exercise more frequently are likely to maintain healthier diets? You are geniuses.
There’s just one problem, your process sucks. You stick your nose in peoples’ lives using “predictive analytics” just so you can figure out which consumers have the highest “lifetime value” as a customer. In short, based on what we do, you guess what we are going to do next and segregate the projected big spenders from the expected regular Joes.
Wow. This kind of impressive use of knowledge makes me want to shut down my computer, throw away my smart phone and revoke my membership on the worldwide web. To companies like Orbitz – whose company has been failing miserably since going public in 2007 – we consumers are little more than hosts for retailers to feed on.
Well, thank you very much for that. And God bless all the online retailers who pay large to secure this data so they can stereotype and profile me.
Seriously, you can market and sell to me all day long, but when you start probing me (without my permission) and profiling me (according to your values) and tagging me (as a cow to be milked or one to be slaughtered), you’ve gone too far.
And you want me to put all my information on a cloud… I don’t think so.
Hopefully this is not a case of the guy who turned old and lost touch with the younger generation.
But over the course of the past couple years – and more particularly over the past few weeks – I have noticed a shift in what was once standard protocol.
Take the job interviewing process as an example. Once upon a time you mailed your resume, followed up with a phone call and scheduled an interview. You then conducted the interview and followed up with a letter or card and phone calls. Not so much anymore.
Now electronic resumes are simply emailed. There are rarely if any follow-up phone calls. Even in post-interview scenarios, emails are fired off within hours of the meetings. But no follow up phone calls. None.
I have come to the inevitable conclusion that the new generation of communicators does not understand the purpose and/or value of picking up the phone and making a real-time connection. Instead you get this:
“I texted you” or “I posted it on Facebook” or “I emailed you.”
The fact that I didn’t acknowledge the text or post or email doesn’t seem to cause concern for the modern-day communicator. Apparently in the new world of instantaneous digital communications only the sending part is important… not the receiving.
And with that I am reminded of one of my favorite Seinfeld scenes: “See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.”
Likewise, anyone can send a communication, but the really important part of the communication is the receiving. But maybe it’s just me.
We were recently asked how to keep marketing or promotional emails out of spam filters. While there is no easy or full-proof solution, there are several key considerations when crafting messaging and format.
Here are some things to avoid:
Are you sending a commercial email, also known as an e-newsletter, e-blast, etc.?
If so, consult the CAN-SPAM Act and make sure you are in compliance. Don’t worry, it should not be hard to follow the regulations as you will want to employ many of them for effectiveness anyways. Some takeaways include:
After considering some of these avoidances, also remember you need a solid marketing strategy. For more considerations in email marketing, read our past blog post Increase Email Open Rates.
Every day in Cleveland brings another day of hope and promise for a new and revived city.
But hope only gets you so far. It is really high time for someone – anyone – to step up with a solution.
We continue to amble around as a city with one idea after the next, kind of like throwing darts at a board.
Let’s open a medical mart and become a center for medical innovation… let’s place wind turbines along the lakeshore and become a center for energy innovation… let’s build a casino and become a center for entertainment…
Let’s get real. Cleveland needs a vision – something that goes beyond an idea and has the potential for long-term growth. This vision then needs a plan that documents what we are doing and who is doing it and includes budgets and timelines and means of measurement and accountability. And then we need to be patient as that plan is implemented and takes hold and grows.
Steve Jobs, who in addition to creating several truly cool products, created a pretty awesome business (actually, he built several of those too), once said: “Building a company is a marathon. To do anything of magnitude takes at least five years, more likely seven or eight. Rightfully or wrongfully, that’s how I think.”
I agree. But as another wise man once said, “The journey of a 1,000 miles begins with one step.”
So, let’s set our sights on the year 2017, but let’s get started today. I am officially volunteering to help in any way I am needed. Now, who’s got a vision?
The competition for online advertising spending is fierce. With U.S. online spend forecasted to grow 23.3% this year, according to a February 2012 forecast from eMarketer, it comes as no surprise that two big online giants are doing whatever it takes to secure more ad dollars.
Just this week Google and Facebook announced upgrades to their systems. On June 5, Google launched its DoubleClick Digital Marketing platform, the “biggest ever overhaul” of DoubleClick. The goal of the upgrade is to allow marketers to more easily manage ad campaigns across different platforms, including mobile, video, display and search.
Direct Marketing News explained it best: DoubleClick — essentially a tool to streamline digital marketing efforts — aims to integrate the process of creating and tracking campaigns by enabling tailored messaging and an easy analysis of real time results. The entire system is bolstered by Google Analytics to allow backend tracking and the ability to report onsite traffic while incorporating that information into specific ad campaigns.
On the social media side, Facebook is also enhancing its online advertising offerings. Now advertisers can select whether they want their Sponsored Stories links appearing on fans’ desktop News Feeds, mobile News Feeds, within the sidebar, or in any combination of the three.
“Facebook is always looking for ways to improve products and has responded to requests from marketers to control the placement of their sponsored stories,” the company said in a statement, according to Business Insider. “As companies are promoting services more frequently on mobile, this option gives them the opportunity to focus on specific placements that will impact them most directly.”
The message both Google and Facebook are sending is clear. They want to make it as easy, as fast and as flexible as possible to purchase online and mobile advertising. In turn, marketers need to stay focused on what online and mobile advertising platforms are going to deliver the best results.
While sitting at a local restaurant watching game 3 of the Stanley Cup on Monday night – NJ Devils vs. LA Kings, if you haven’t been in the loop – I heard from table to table, “Because it’s the cup.” I’ll have another beer, because it’s the cup! Let’s order more wings, because it’s the cup!
I could not help but laugh to myself, and too found myself reciting the campaign slogan in a comedic manor. After thinking about the slogan, I did some research and found the campaign was targeted at the casual fan who watches the game in a social setting. Switching gears from their previous campaign “History Will be Made,” the NHL tailored their new campaign to reach a broader audience, positioning the cup as a fun, social event, rather than all-about-hockey.
I must say, this resonated with me, and became somewhat of an inside joke between our group of friends. As casual hockey fan – I’ve been to three games in the past year – it gave me something I could relate to with my hardcore hockey fan friends. I did not have to know anything about past Stanley Cup games, the record of the LA Kings or NJ Devils, or anything related to hockey for that matter.
Think of this in terms of other sporting events. People who watch the Super Bowl are not necessarily football fans. FIFA World Cup, same idea. “Because it’s the Cup” ties together the idea that sports are not only about technicalities and competition, they are about social gathering and interaction, and everyone coming together “because”.
Targeting your messaging to your audience does not always have to be about clever rhyming words with bells and whistles. Some of the best campaigns have been to the point, pithy and short messages that resonate. Step back from your messaging and think for a minute. Who are you targeting? Who are you missing that you should be targeting?
This all goes back to my blog post last week on Advertising. Make sure you are crafting messaging that your audience can identify with.
And now, watch this ad and raise your cup, because it’s the cup.