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creating meaning with content

Creating successful messaging

You can use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, Yammer, build a fancy web site, create a blog — all in the hopes of getting attention. And you may very well get some attention through those vehicles. The sad truth is that you will quickly lose those hard-earned eyeballs if your message isn’t clear. And if your message isn’t clear, it will fail.

faeryboots *away for the weekend!*

That’s why keeping content fresh, to the point, and easy to understand is the key to successful messaging. Remember, your readers don’t have hours to peruse your copy so don’t waste their valuable time with marketing hype and frilly language. Put the meat in the first sentence, delivering the “five W’s and an H” journalism punch right away — the who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Let’s look at two examples, shall we:

The wrong way: Company X is pleased to announce its latest mind-blowing invention that will change millions of lives. This revolutionary new product is one business users have always been searching for and will truly revolutionize business travel as we know it. We are thrilled to offer Product X to you at a low cost. Just click this link to find a list of fine retailers offering the product.

The right way: Geared toward business travelers who aren’t often near a wall outlet, Product X by Company X is a $59.95 solar-powered device that plugs into your USB port and extends the life of your computer’s battery by 60 percent. (Product X is now available online at Amazon.com.)

In the right way, readers get information upfront, stripped of all the nonsense. They can get in, get out, and buy the product. (If they want to read more, provide a link so they can.) In the wrong way, the wording is vague, sentences filled with useless adjectives, and it takes a long time to get to the point — if there is a point. Create content for someone in a rush and your readers will thank you by becoming customers. A novel approach!

So what are your big content questions? What sorts of head-scratchers do you come across when crafting content? Please ask your questions in the comments.

photo credit: faeryboots *away for the weekend!*

Filed under: content, journalism101, , , , , , , ,

At long last…

keyhole-post11I have a confession to make: I’ve been a writer and journalist for 15 years, but never blogged for myself or by myself. Sure, I’ve blogged for others — PC World, TechSoup, the Anita Borg Institute, Cisco — but this time, I’m in the driver’s seat. I’ve often cursed myself for lacking the wherewithal to start a blog sooner, promising, “This is the day when I will launch my blog.” But that day never came. Such is my blogging sob story. Finally, the clouds have cleared, launch day has arrived, fingers are poised over the keyboard, and that’s what counts.

To me, blogging is online voyeurism at its finest. That’s exactly why I’ve been a lover of blogs for ages, stalked friends’ blogs, and even read the blogs of those I don’t know. Blogs tend to be more intimate, casual, raw, and reek of much more truth than a polished piece of magazine prose.

So why start a blog now, at a time when there’s actually a decline in blogging in favor of shiny new-fangled tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendfeed, and über popular micro-blogging site Twitter? All I can say is that the time is right and I have my reasons.

Being a word nerd, editor, social media geek, writer, journalist, marketer, business developer, I’ve got a unique perspective to share. This is the first of many blog posts and I hope you’ll return to read my editing tips, grammar tips, content diatribes, interviews with experts, reporting, opinions, best practices, and tips for crafting content that will best serve your readers and deliver your message. Because, after all, you can’t save the world without great content!

Filed under: stories, , , ,

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