How can Twitter’s 140 character missives, and pithy Snapchat highlights get translated into our everyday writing as communicators?
Every time I reach for my AP Style Book, I am reminded of a college journalism professor who left her mark on me for a couple of reasons: First, we had weekly quizzes on the AP Style Book, which was a great way to learn and practice the rules. And if you weren’t sure there was a rule, at least we all learned to use the book to see if a rule existed.
Second, she was a stickler for writing in the simplest terms, using concise, action words and cutting out fat from our writing. Following is a list of words or phrases that should be eliminated from our writing, along with a suitable replacement word. Just like Bitly and Tiny URL help us shorten URLs for social media, this list can help tighten all of our writing. What are some of your favorite words or phrases that can be omitted and replaced with a single word?
One Denver television station that seems poised to test that theory, however, is Fox31. The Tribune-owned station has been on a ratings tear over the past year, but it is in the process of being acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group, a conservative-leaning ownership group that is one of the largest broadcast companies in the country.
One of Sinclair’s signature components is its “must run” segments – short video segments that are centrally produced by the company that all stations are required to broadcast. Local news directors and producers do not have the ability to determine whether they should appear.
As The New York Times reported:
“Critics … cite Sinclair’s willingness to use its stations to advance a mostly right-leaning agenda. That practice has stirred wariness among some of its journalists concerned about intrusive direction from headquarters.”
The Sinclair approach threatens the credibility and trust that Fox31 has built up over the past decade. And the fallout has already begun. Fox31 news director Holly Gauntt, who drove the station to No. 2 in the ratings locally in just one year, has just left the station to take the same job at 7News.
Now the question is whether local viewers will also abandon the station if they feel they can’t trust its credibility.
Some behind-the-scenes content, combined with “staff picks” from our clients at Elite Brands.
We’ve had a couple of strategy sessions with our clients recently and a recurring theme has come up: Sometimes what you consider “boring” might actually be extremely engaging content.
Anyone who works in a warehouse, production facility or “in-the-field” probably doesn’t see a whole lot of intrigue from said workspace. But time and time again, we’ve seen audiences be completely captivated and engaged with behind-the-scenes content of how things are made, how machinery works, or what people do in their daily work routine.
Where do you get your social media ideas? When you hear the words “brainstorming” or “creativity,” you may not immediately associate them with science and research, but I do. When I see a calendar invitation to a brainstorming session, I make a note to make time for some research. I’m not talking about what competitors are up to, though that too is important. I’m talking about finding a LexisNexis log in and doing some digging to see what the scientific community says about the topic. You’d be surprised what exists out there to inspire your work.
Most recently, I did some work with a child abuse prevention nonprofit and stumbled across the amazing Frameworks research that studied how people in various demographics responded to different message framing related to child abuse prevention. This research is widely used amongst nonprofits working on this topic. It has great insights like “because so many frames have the effect of lifting support for child abuse and neglect policies, child welfare advocates on this issue have the opportunity to create some synergy across child development issues by using frames that also elevate other areas of child development.” To translate, there are many ways of talking about child abuse that can be effective, but a few strategic ones will also help everyone else working on the topic. In coming up with ideas for this April, which is child abuse prevention month, we kept that research in mind.
The child abuse example is just one of many. If the topic relevant to you doesn’t have extensive existing research there can be more broad ways to investigate, such as looking for research related to online giving and social pressure for nonprofits. Or even understanding theories related to how people choose what to buy. This study tested whether people offered a coupon for jelly bought more when they could choose between 26 flavors or 6 flavors. More people were attracted to the big display, but more people actually bought jelly when there were fewer choices.
If you want to propel your agenda, build a movement, and change the narrative, you’re going to need some powerful social media ideas for content. Why not start with a Google search to leverage psychology, cognitive science, and the latest social science research to help lead you to success?
Should we be blogging? We get this question a lot. And the answer is a big fat clear… maybe.
It’s no secret that both users and search engines love fresh, unique content, right? Absolutely – when it’s timely, original, meaningful and well written. By blogging, you create the opportunity to build relationships with readers, position your organization as an expert in the field and provide new content for Google to index. We have seen the dramatic impact a strategic, well-run blog can have on increasing visibility and improving search engine rankings for an organization. We’re definitely a fan.
But that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. We have also seen un-nurtured blogs become stale, outdated, duplicative and even a liability.
Develop a Blog Strategy
Before you dive into blogging with both feet, take a step back and think about your purpose in doing so and, maybe even more importantly, your capacity to effectively execute it. Creating a roadmap can help position you, and your blog, for success. Some things to consider before you get started:
Audience – Who are they and what are they interested in? Use this as a guide in developing your content strategy.
Authors – Identify your key thought leaders in the organization and assess their capacity and willingness to develop content.
Content Strategy – Align your audiences’ interests with your authors’ expertise and map out what topics you plan to cover.
Content Calendar – Will you have topics assigned to specific days of the week? Or will the content cycle ebb and flow with current events? Will you create a blog schedule and assign posts to specific contributors? Or will you allow authors to self-select when they provide content? How will you hold your blogging team accountable for maintaining a steady stream of content?
Monitoring – Will you enable blog comments? If so, develop a policy on if, when and how to respond.
Distribution – Optimizing your blog content to be found in search is a great start, but how else will you distribute your blog posts to ensure they reach your target audience?
My colleague Will Holden and I had a chance to attend the Denver Digital Summit last week to listen in on all things digital – trends, strategies, new tools and ongoing tactics. It’s great to see this Denver-based conference thrive and continue to grow each year, and while there was a ton of talk about Snapchat and other emerging technologies there was one constant theme from nearly every session I attended: Tailored user experience (understanding and knowing what your audience wants first and foremost) needs to be the focus needs to be the focus of every campaign.
For years, we’ve been talking about how our industry is constantly evolving and how the lines are blurring between marketing, PR and advertising. During that time, we’ve experienced a rapid transformation at GFM with the evolution of digital communications. In fact, we’ve been working in this digital space for more than a decade – before Facebook was even available to the general public.
And that’s why we’re excited to share the news that GFM launched our sister agency – CenterTable. Our clients consistently express the need to engage with their audiences in authentic and meaningful ways. With our sister agencies, we will continue to do so through an integrated and impactful approach.
When I was a young newspaper writer, I was a copy editor’s worst nightmare. One particularly forgiving improver of words described my early writing style as “breezy,” which was a diplomatic way to say “I asked you for 700 words, and you puked up 1,400.”
As I progressed in the industry, I slowly found out that editors wanted shorter, tighter copy not just so it would fit in the allotted space in the print edition (remember those?), but so that it would be at least marginally readable.
It was my tremendously good fortune to work with one managing editor early on who realized that I, like many young journalists growing up in the Please Validate My Opinion Era, saw myself as the next great American columnist. If I wanted to write columns, my editor said, then Gene Weingarten was required reading. The Washington Post scribe’s weekly “Below the Beltway” column remains required reading for me to this day.
Sure, Weingarten’s wit could cut through a ’68 Buick. But that isn’t why he’s one of our most brilliant living columnists. He earns the distinction because of the depth of emotion he elicits in 500 words or less.
Let’s pretend that the makers of Advil were a client of ours (they are not), and they wanted us to explain what ibuprofen is to the general consumer. If you Google “ibuprofen,” you get a wide variety of definitions, including the following:
From isobutylphenylpropanoic acid, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used as an analgesic and antipyretic and for symptomatic relief of dysmenorrhea, vascular headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other rheumatic and nonrheumatic inflammatory disorders.
A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It works by blocking your body’s production of certain natural substances that cause inflammation. This effect helps to decrease swelling, pain, or fever.
I don’t know about you, but the second definition makes a heck of a lot more sense to me. (Thank you, WebMD!)
Great user-generated photos are frequent at Silverton Mountain.
Jon Woods and I had the opportunity this past week to take a day off of work and visit one of our favorite places in the entire state: Silverton Mountain. Silverton is a somewhat sleepy mining town that sits in the extremely steep San Juan Mountain Range between Ouray and Durango. It opened in 2002 with just one lift providing access to nearly 2,000 acres of backcountry-only terrain (there are no groomed runs and most are 40-percent+ grade), and another 22,000 acres accessible by their helicopter service. The mountain is only open Thursday through Sunday, and 90% of the season requires guides for visitors, ensuring that only a handful of skiers and boarders have access to the fresh snow daily.
Why is all of that background important? Silverton serves a fairly niche audience of hardcore skiers and backcountry enthusiasts, so they have to be that much more strategic to reach their customers in a meaningful way.