Interviews are a rich source of content – for your website, content marketing campaign or background research. Asking the right questions opens the door for the people who matter to your organization to tell their story: an employee talking about what makes their job unique, an expert sharing insight into the challenges of your industry or a satisfied customer telling us why they bring you their business. Whoever is answering the questions, interviews give a human face to your content.
Throughout my writing career I’ve conducted dozens of interviews. No matter who you’re talking to – from CEOs to engineers, scientists, medical professionals and people-on-the-street – each interviewee has a unique story to tell. Your job as the interviewer is getting them to share it. Sometimes the goal of the interview is just one good sound bite; other times you want to scratch the surface and discover the deeper story. No matter what the objective, each interview is different, as is each individual’s personality, story, mood and agenda.
One key quality of interviewing that should run throughout the discussion is empathy. The ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes will enable you to ask the right questions: the ones your audience wants answers to, and the ones the interviewee wants you to ask. That, combined with a certain killer instinct for probing questions, is the hallmark of the great interviewer.
Conducting a successful interview requires some advance planning and a lot of listening. Here are five tips to ensure you make the most of yours: read more
Let’s talk about that project that’s been sitting on your to-do list. It could be updating the company website, planning a content marketing campaign or writing a thank-you letter to the team. You could always write the copy yourself. You know the brief and besides, it’s not like writing is rocket science or even graphic design – both of which would obviously require a professional. That kind of thinking is why so many communications arrive late, lack focus or fail to provide an intelligible message.
Here are 5 reasons why you should consider hiring a professional writer for your next communications project.
I’ve got my thinking cap on now.
I am a writer. Ever since I was old enough to hold a pen, I’ve used it to put my thoughts on paper. From telling stories to selling widgets — you name it, I’ve written it.
As a writer who has honed her skills on just about every form of the art, I didn’t expect to learn much about the craft of writing from blogging. I was wrong. Since starting a personal blog in January 2013, my writing has improved immensely. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Blogging is a form of writing that requires a specific focus and edge. It is not enough to have something to say: sharing useful information with your audience is necessary but far from sufficient. You also need to share your personal point of view. Even if you are an expert in a particular field or niche, you need to get your point across in a voice that is uniquely yours.
When it comes to grabbing attention online, we are all competing with cats. That is a fact that you are entitled to find offensive – but it’s a reality of the world wide web. Cats are the consummate content marketers. They manage to steal attention away from topics far more worthy of our time. They can upstage even the most sophisticated marketing launch. So how do they do it?
Here are 5 things about content we can learn from cats.
Additional links you may find helpful:
Bonus: Here’s a real life example of what we are up against. Why I am showing you this? Guess I’m a cat at heart.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t have missed the fact that storytelling is making headlines:
Harness the power of storytelling!
How to use story to improve customer buy-in!
Top storytelling techniques to build your business!
If you’re like me, you’ve wondered: why is it suddenly okay to tell stories?
As a child, storytelling was frowned upon – unless it happened in the library, where you sat in strict silence, listening to an adult read a book. Or when you wrote a story as an assignment for English class. Telling stories was quite another matter.
“Somebody’s been telling tales out of school!” I remember being told when I ratted out one of my siblings. Being a tell-tale was not cool. Also heard: “That’s a tall tale if I ever heard one.” “Somebody has an active imagination!” (Not necessarily a good thing, judging by the looks exchanged between adults). The message? It was a short step from telling stories to perjury, prison and life as a hardened criminal.
So when did storytelling become acceptable? As an advertising copywriter back in the 1980s, any attempt to bring story to copy was tough. Long copy had gone out with David Ogilvy. Splashy art direction with short headlines ruled the day. As far as the marketers were concerned, the product was the hero of any ad; in retail it was often the price point itself. The consumer was the target market, the audience, and if he got involved at all he was often portrayed as the chump.
We all do it: say ‘leverage’ when we mean use, talk about ‘granularity’ instead of detail, refer to deliverables, low-hanging fruit, moving targets, key learnings. But what about the more serious culprits? Where we use euphemisms like ‘headcount’ for people, ‘change management’ to suggest restructuring – which is not to say downsizing, efficiencies, or heaven forbid, job cuts.
It can be tough to avoid using buzzwords and jargon in the world of corporate communication. Part of our job in PR is getting tough messages out on behalf of our bosses and clients. And after all, a good catch phrase or a cliché can get an idea across faster than trying to invent something new. Can’t it? read more
One rule I try to live and work by is: ‘Always deliver on your promises.’ The bottom line is if you can’t deliver, don’t promise. This policy may not always win friends and influence people but it will definitely not make enemies or leave disappointed clients grumbling behind your back.
The same thing goes for effective communication. ‘Tis better to under promise and over deliver. Sound obvious? This can be a tough sell when it comes to marketing messages. I find people often all too willing to believe their own B.S. But if your product isn’t really going to change society, transform lives, or even amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, as Bogey said to Bacall in Casablanca, there’s little point in promising it will.
That’s even truer when it comes to creating content that delivers. My current bugbear is the post with the killer headline, designed to draw you in according to tried-and-true copywriting techniques: