Communications professionals are in the midst of content chaos.
Communication departments everywhere are feeling the pressure to churn out enticing, ground-breaking, hard-hitting pieces of content – but in this panic for content many are forgetting to ask what are they trying to achieve with content? Who is it for and how should it be delivered?
Good quality content shouldn’t be knee jerk – it needs to be thought through properly and of good-quality. Here are a few tips to follow when creating great content that will make your target audience read and respond to your work – which should be your only goal.
By now we all know the obvious basics when it comes to content, which I am not going to even list, such as “know your audience”, “keep it short” or “keep it valid and timely” or that readers only really read the beginning and end of a piece – communication professionals know all these clichés by now.
Instead here are five less obvious tips content creators need to know when creating good content and to avoid content noise:
1. Use simple language. “Never use a long word where a short one will do,” is one of George Orwell’s rules of writing. He also cautioned against jargon. If you use corporate speak, which is long-winded and vague, the writing can become pompous and unreadable. Keep writing in short, simple and meaningful sentences.
2. Don’t be afraid to follow your competitors. If you avoid a topic because it has been covered by the competition, you risk losing out on the valid issues of the day. If you tackle a “hot topic” you may even bask in the light of its popularity. But make sure you add to the conversation. Your audience might not follow news closely. That’s your job.
3. The hook is the title – Stay away from cliches and vague or reassuring words. But don’t try to be a fear monger either; the readers will see through you. The title should be short, explanatory and, when possible, contrary to common wisdom. You don’t need to avoid alliteration. Try titles without the words “challenge” or “opportunity.
4. Don’t use pointless quotes. Use quotes that illustrate the point you are trying to make, not just because you feel obliged to quote someone.
5. Don’t forget your challenge or problem – A common formula in content is to start with a challenge or problem. But as the content progresses “challenge” is watered down with positive quotes and thoughts. It’s okay to start with a problem. That problem will draw the readers in, especially if they struggle with it themselves. But they won’t stay with you if you don’t deliver a solution.