Tag Archives: blog writer

Harold Evans explains “why writing well matters”

Former editor of Britain’s Sunday Times and Editor at Large for Reuters Sir Harold Evans explained why he’s driven crazy by a lot of the “increasingly incomprehensible” business language today in a recent interview with Charlie Rose.  “What Orwell predicted would happen has happened” he told Rose, in introducing his recent book entitled “Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why Writing Well Matters.”  The book is now a New York Times Bestseller which The Financial Times calls: “practical advice for those seeking to improve their writing skills.”

Evans explained the increasing incomprehensibility, citing the example of a friend who got a call from someone who wanted to help him sell a company.  The caller, Evans detailed, identified the sale as a “liquidation event” instead of referring to it in more simple terms.

He says he wrote the book “because euphemisms are used more than they should be” — and that  “with the arrival of digital – the velocity of information is speeding up.  To find the real message [it] takes longer than it should ‘because there’s so much verbiage’”.

Evans identifies 10 ways to make writing clearer:

  1. Get moving – use the active voice.  Passive voice creates more words and is harder to understand.
  2. Be specific – all great writing focuses on simple, concrete terms – not abstractions
  3. Ration adjectives and raise adverbs
  4. Cut the fat – check the figures
  5. Organize for clarity — sentences should be short because they’re easier to understand and speak
  6. Be positive – sentences should assert a positive instead of a negative
  7. Don’t be a bore
  8. Put people first. Using a healthcare example, Evans advises: use a name — not a case number
  9. Propositions are pesky and can confuse who’s doing what
  10. Down with monologophobia — don’t be afraid of using the same word twice

Evans’ life and career

Evans love of journalism began in World War 2 – where he encountered a soldier who’d died of tuberculosis at 27.  Evans explained how he became “obsessed by many bad things that were hidden” in Britain’s railways and coal mines.  He made his name in helping investigative teams for the UK’s Sunday Times – in particular his work on exposing the treatment of babies impacted by thalidomide — as well as the Kim Philby spy case.  He later worked for US News and World Report and Conde Nast. He explained the difference between British and US journalism:  In American journalism news and opinion are separate.  In the UK, he explained, opinion-editorial and news were fused during his career.

Evans went on to detail how he first fell in love with the writing of Tina Brown, then a writer for the Times and later Tatler, Vanity Fair and the Daily Beast. He later fell in love with Brown herself and they’ve been married ever since.  “Long may you flourish as the Great interpreter of American life”, he told Rose to end the interview.

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Essentials of Content Marketing #3: An editorial calendar

While many business have turned to content marketing as a means to attract new clients or customers — some have not adopted one of the most essential elements of these efforts — an editorial calendar.

As Sydney Rayl of Turn the Page Online Marketing explains — successful content marketing “means building a loyal following that trusts your brand for quality content and provides you with repeat business”.  Vitally, as Rayl also explains, “the key to achieving a successful content marketing strategy is to consistently [produce] high-quality content that is focused on what you’re audiences wants to see”.  And the best way to do this, Rayl notes, is by adopting and committing to utilize an editorial calendar.  Garrett Moon of CoSchedule Blog puts it a bit differently:  He explains that “the number on way to get traffic to [a] blog is through the very habits than an editorial calendar [helps] develop:  organization.

A consistent, well-planned strategy is required for content marketing success

As Garrett Moon explains in more depth — content marketing “requires a lot of strategy to be successful”.  While understanding your audience is central to strategy — an editorial calendar is just as important from an implementation standpoint.  Without it — you won’t be producing consistent, thoughtful content that attracts a growing audience.   In addition to helping you plan out consistent posts — and editorial calendar permits you to more easily alternate between topics, track writing and editing assignments, new ideas and deadlines.

As Moon argues, a written editorial calendar also helps to keep a content marketing team accountable — helping to make “each individual more likely to deliver high-quality, relevant content consistently over time.”  That consistency, Moon explains, is vital to building a larger following.

The basic components of an editorial calendar

Creme Blog contains an excellent example of an editorial calendar.  Writing for Creme, Tabita explains how to create an editorial calendar.  Here’s what Creme details:

  • Make a list of topics that will be of interest to your readers.
  • Set the number of articles you’d like to publish on a weekly basis.
  • Determine what type of content you’d like to publish — whether it’s written articles, videos, podcasts, pictures, graphics or others.
  • Set dates certain for producing and publishing each piece of content.
  • Determine which channels you’ll utilize to promote the content: Facebook? Twitter?, etc.
  • Utilize a digital, shareable calendar for dispersed teams and easier collaboration.

Discipline will yield better results

Among the greatest challenges to producing regular, high-quality content that address the needs of your key audiences — is consistency.  An editorial calendar will go a long way to creating a disciplined and hence more successful — content marketing strategy.

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8 reasons why your business should outsource digital marketing

Many business would benefit a great deal from outsourcing some or all of their digital marketing efforts — as these efforts are complicated and require specialized expertise.  A recent series of articles provides some of the best reasons why business should outsource digital marketing.  In preparing this post – I’ve drawn upon the insights of Freya Jones, Irene Sun and Sheldon Payne to create a list of 8 reasons why your business should outsource digital marketing.  Here they are:

  1. You’re hiring experts —  The best digital marketers can identify custom strategies for your business and their unique role within that strategy.  Some digital marketers maintain a successful focus on one or a small number of industries — and will have the track record to prove it.
  2. You’ll receive a valuable outside perspective on your business —  An outside perspective from a digital marketing expert will provide you with a wholly unique and informed perspective on what might best benefit your marketing strategy.   
  3. You’ll receive a continually optimized strategy — A digital marketing expert will be committed to the ongoing, informed optimization of your strategy to achieve best results.  
  4. Less risk —  Digital marketing involves a number of areas of expertise, including strategy,  content marketing, social media engagement, analytics and more.  When you outsource these tasks you won’t be wasting your own time attempting to hire one person who is capable of performing all of these roles capably.
  5. You’ll achieve better results — A digital marketing expert will have the experience of previous successful efforts and be in a position to help guide your strategy and implementation to faster results. 
  6. Your marketing efforts will be seamless — By hiring a digital marketing expert, you’ll ensure your own staff won’t need to worry about this often labor-intensive work. Your digital marketer will have much experience in juggling a wide variety of tasks at all times.
  7. You get to do more with less — As digital marketing utilizes many channels and a variety of areas of expertise – by hiring the right professional for each task — you can turn over large portions of your marketing function to the copywriters, designers, SEO specialists and others integral to creating a fully functioning, sophisticated digital marketing effort.
  8. You get access to the latest technology — Digital marketing utilizes technologies that often change and adapt in the fast-paced digital economy.  An expert in digital marketing will know about these changes and be adapting your marketing efforts to be as up-to-date as possible.

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Essentials of Content Marketing Part #1: Strategy

The ascendance of content marketing

More and more companies are now utilizing the internet as a means by which to communicate with key audiences.  And this communication is commonly referred to as content marketing.  Content marketing utilizes a variety of forms of communication — including written, audio and video — often published on a range of social media channels.

Alexander Jutkowitz, vice chairman and chief global strategist at Hill+Knowlton has written about this trend, noting the “historic transformation for brands and companies” centered around content.  In particular, Jutkowitz has detailed how “nine out of ten organizations are now marketing with content”.  “The succes of content marketing”, he explains, “has radicalized the way companies communicate…mark[ing] an important new chapter in the history of business communications: the era of corporate enlightenment.”

With the importance of content’s role in modern marketing, those who might utilize it should first be aware of its’ essentials.  This post is the first in a series dedicated to the Essentials of Content Marketing.  It’s about getting the overall strategy right — before beginning any content marketing effort.

Content strategy tailors consistent messages to specific audiences

British public relations consultants Mackman Group have ably detailed the essentials of content strategy on their website.  As they explain, a content strategy permits an organization to align their business objectives with meeting the needs of their customers via online engagement.  Well thought-out content, as they explain, will be shared and more easily relevant in internet searches.  This amplifies those key messages and ultimately leads to more interest and more customers.  

The first step of a content strategy is research — which allows an organization to understand their key audiences.  Once understood, content can then be consistently crafted to meet the ongoing needs of an audience.  Too, companies should utilize platforms best suited to reaching and engaging with the audience that specific content is created for.  In particular: “[Content] output must be consistently good…regular, original and varied, [while] in keeping with the brand’s overall style.”  This is essential for building and maintaining an audience.  And well planned social media is required to properly promote content and engage with an audience.

Importantly, “customers are not the only audience content engages… members of the media community – [including bloggers and writers] — should not be overlooked”.

A well-planned content strategy will lead to measurable results

Mackman Group concluded that a “clearly set out strategy” means content is easy to implement and measure.  They recommend setting specific objectives which can be analyzed by using social media feedback and analytics from web traffic.  This author would also note that content marketing, properly integrated into outbound business development initiatives, can be credited with a percentage of the sales proceeds firms generate from this unified effort.

While much more is available online about content marketing strategy, this post provides a basic overview of the central importance of strategy to content marketing. More of those elements will be detailed in this series in the future.

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Companies that publish are growing at “breakneck speed”

Companies that publish are growing at “breakneck speed”, according to Neil Patel, in a recent article in Inc.  

As Patel detailed: “Companies that defy expectations, disrupt industries, and forge an indelible presence” are achieving that growth.  These companies, he added, are also solving big problems, doing good — and doing content marketing better.

Patel cited Buzzfeed and BufferApp — which have both grown enormous online audiences as a result of producing and publishing useful information tailored to the interests of their readers. Another standout in online news — Business Insider — was purchased last year for $442 Million dollars – $200 Million more than what the Washington Post sold for in 2013.  

Content marketing – A modern marketing must-have

“Content marketing is a modern marketing must-have” Patel explains —  but for companies to do it right – they must “create value (in content form) for the right people to see”.  As [customers and potential clients]…engage with this content, it brings them closer to a conversion”.  And these conversations lead to more client engagements.

While your company may not be able to achieve the success of Buzzfeed, Business Insider or BufferApp,  you can – as Patel explains, “grow your content, improve your traffic, and deliver the information that your audience wants.”

Social Media Engagement is key to maximizing content marketing efforts

While content marketing has become a must-have for businesses.  Publishing on a company blog or on LinkedIn — isn’t enough in today’s modern social-media driven environment.  Social media promotion of that content is also essential.  A case in point is the Washington Post,  which recently surpassed the New York Times in online traffic via a strategy that includes increased social media engagement.  Notably, Neal Schaffer has detailed 11 ways to use social media to promote content.

While successful online content and social publishing may seem a daunting challenge to emulate – keep in mind they are examples whose best use is to serve as a constant source of inspiration for your own — albeit less extensive efforts —  to generate a larger client base in your unique niche.

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Why it’s important for professional services firms to develop thought leadership

Companies are turning to online sources of information when seeking to be educated buyers of consulting services, according to an article by Braden Kelley.  It is vital, therefore, as Mark Clemente details, for firms to seek to maintain a sophisticated online presence.

Power has shifted to the buyers of professional services

The reasons for this, as Kelley detailed, are rooted in how the internet has changed the relationship between professional services firms and their corporate clients.  He explains that in the past — information “was scarce and external knowledge was valued by the client.”  But now as information is so readily available — corporate buyers of professional services are – via their own research — amassing data and information once held by their professional advisors.

Companies have, therefore, “become less open to being sold consulting services and instead more focused on becoming buyers of consulting services”.

Thought leadership requires commitment and discipline

But as Kelley details — professional services firms are “struggling to identify and provide the content necessary to help them maintain (and possibly extend) their success in this new environment.”  He argues that professional services firm tend to under-invest in thought leadership and consequently become vulnerable to competitors who do — missing out, therefore, on the revenue that would have resulted had that thought leadership been cultivated.

He argues that the value of thought leadership and those capable of creating it and facilitating the execution of a content marketing strategy — cannot be underestimated.  And specifically — to do it well — as Carter Hostelley details — “treat your blog like it’s important” – “think like a publisher” – “make it about your target audience” – “blog often but keep quality high” — and “get other experts to contribute”.

Sophisticated thought leadership distinguishes professional services firms

With this information in mind, professional services firms can seek to distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace of competitors by a commitment to carefully cultivating the best thought leadership posture they can.

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