Anyone that writes professionally knows that when it comes to creating top notch content, it takes true ingenuity. While brainstorming for content ideas, there are plenty of avenues to consider that could make or break your pitch. Follow my personal tips and you will be heads above the rest!
Educate yourself about your subject or client.
Let’s say a client wants you to come up with a full-fledged campaign for a new line of products. Don’t just wing it and come up with content for content’s sake! Take some time and talk to your client. Listen and pay attention to their goals and vision for their campaign. Try to read as many trade periodicals as possible for that industry to get a baseline of what the tone of the campaign or piece should be.
Know your target audience and demographic and write the way they do.
If you’re writing technical material specifically for scientists, your tone and content are going to be completely different than if you’re writing about a consumer product geared towards millennials. You want to write in a way that not only speaks to the demographic you’re targeting, but gives those that may not be familiar with the product, company, or service plenty of information to pique their curiosity. If the client has certain verbiage or SEO keywords that absolutely must be included in the campaign, work them into your copy!
For companies who produce content for an international audience, it’s also important to write in the style that the other country communicates in and is accustomed to. For English language media, different style guidelines are followed, depending on the country. Here in the United States, journalists and writers usually follow Associated Press or Chicago style guidelines; in the United Kingdom, the standard style applied is that of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Adapting your writing style ensures that your content is applicable and acceptable cross culturally.
Having a journalism background, I personally use AP style guidelines as much as possible, and my AP Stylebook is just as important to my work as a dictionary or thesaurus. This way, my work is always concise and consistent grammatically and stylistically. I always have them on hand.
Read the material out loud.
This has been one of my personal tricks for years. By reading the material aloud, you get a feel for the flow, pacing, and musicality of the piece. I try to make my content sound as natural as speaking, accounting for inflection and emotion. I don’t want to bore people to tears with my work, either. If the content I’ve written doesn’t sound pleasing when I read it out loud, it’s not perfect. I have high standards, so sometimes I need to flush what I’ve done. It’s then back to the drawing board!
Proofread and edit. Then proofread and edit some more. When you’re done, proofread and edit again.
A gigantic pet peeve of mine is finding typographical and grammatical errors in business related materials. It is imperative to check your materials multiple times before it’s set to run! If you have a spare pair of eyes in the form of a fellow copywriter, content specialist, or editor, use them! They may see something you may have missed or want to offer some constructive criticism. Once they have glossed over it and made their suggestions, proofread and edit once more!
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The American Marketing Association, Boston reposted this piece in January 2018. It may be found here: http://amaboston.org/blog/feel-content-with-your-content
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