Writing for the B2B PR and marketing world can be a challenge in itself. That’s why it’s important for content marketers to be able to write (and do it well) because our clients are counting on us to create quality, error-free thought leadership materials and key content pieces that resonate and help their customers make a purchase decision. What can kill your content’s message? Messy typos or grammatical errors.
As many PR folks will tell you that when they first got into the content marketing game: it wasn’t easy. Most likely, a freshly written piece of content was ripped to shreds by a fellow team member. Sound familiar? We definitely can relate. But when that happens, the process requires us to make changes so that the next iteration not only impresses our team members, but also gets it right for the client.
While no content marketer is perfect, many of us have gleaned some quick tips to keep us on our A-game when it comes to creating content to be truly proud of. Below, I’ve outlined a few things that I’ve learned over the years that may help you next time you find yourself in a content crunch
- Grammar IS important. This one may be obvious, but it’s too often forgotten or overlooked in today’s age of content overload. While none of us are perfect (maybe there are even grammar errors in this very post, or maybe I’ve intentionally hidden some for you to find? Unless you are a grammar expert, you’ll never know!), it’s important to keep our grammar hats on at all times.
- When in doubt, seek some help. There are lots of great online resources to check out when it comes to staying on top of your grammar game. There are even some helpful Twitter handles – and if you have doubt, consult the AP Stylebook! They even post daily tips to Facebook if you want a fun grammar fact to check out every day. And don’t forget that taking some time to do a little background research can go a long way. Google is the content marketer’s best friend!
- Listen. To write like your client, you have to know the ins and outs of the phrases, verbiage and tone that they prefer. Many companies have branded keywords that they consistently use, and many executives have a distinctive writing style that they tend to favor. Listen to feedback and make sure you adjust your writing based on the style preferences of your client. It will save you time and keep the number of drafts to a minimum!
- Know the keywords, current trends and important topics of your client’s industries. Here at OMS, we pride ourselves on staying on top of the latest trends across the various industries our clients care about. Whether it’s writing an article about the impact of the IoT in healthcare or how beacon technology is being used in retail – understanding what “IoT” and “beacon technology” means in context to your client’s business is just as important as correctly using their/there/they’re in a sentence. It’s also critical to find and make use of good industry-specific resources to properly educate yourself on your client and their world.
- And on the flip side, avoid trendy buzzwords and clichés like the plague (see what I did there?). Sometimes we get into a rut as writers and start using the same terms over and over again. This is an injustice to the precision and diversity of the English language! Sounding repetitive detracts from the overall impact of your message. There’s always a better way to express what you want to say, so take the time to do so and throw out that buzzword!
- How you want your readers to process the information that you’re presenting is important. Think about how you like to consume information and reflect that in your writing. Do you like quick bulleted lists or do you prefer a meatier article? Also, think about how long a piece is supposed to be and consider the flow. Ask yourself: Is the content compelling enough to keep the reader’s attention to read all the way to the end? If the answer is “No”, maybe reconsider how you’re structuring the piece of content.
- Don’t be afraid to take a stand. Wishy-washy writing doesn’t have the impact your clients truly need – and taking a stand with writing even got someone his own Broadway musical. Help your client take a stand and create something truly unique by asking them to take an opposite point of view or to comment on an unpopular topic. It may help uncover key points you didn’t think of that will help your content stand out.
- Accept that you’re going to make mistakes. All of my colleagues at OMS could tell you about a time I totally whiffed the mark on a first draft. Even the best of us “Grammar Ninjas” make a blunder now and again. It’s why we have multiple members on client teams – a nice checks-and-balances approach to content to review work for errors, lend different perspectives and ideas and help each other deliver great content every time.
- And to combat the fact that we all make mistakes, it’s important to get a thicker skin. When it comes to content marketing, it’s not personal. Sometimes you’re going to hit the bullseye on a piece the first time – and other times, you may be rocking back and forth at your desk trying to figure out what went wrong. Making revisions doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, it just means that you’re about to be an even better one. Get back in there and knock draft #2 out of the park! #DatContentLife
- Read! The more I read, the more I find myself inspired to write. We’ve even talked about starting a book exchange club here at the downtown OMS office. Reading great stuff informs great writing. If you need a suggestion to get you started, I’d suggest Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s both a fun read and one that will inspire you to sit down and churn out that novel you’ve had in your head for years.
Author: Audrey Pennisi, Account Manager, Outlook Marketing Services
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