There is an art to writing social media posts, emails or other communications that compel people to care, and more importantly, to act. Quality content engages readers and compels them to take action.
B2 principals Missy Hurley MacFarlane, APR and Kyle Parks presented nine tips for creating content that gets clicks, shares and engagement during PRSA Tampa Bay’s annual Professional Development Day.
B2’s writing tips for quality content include:
1. “Hit them over the head.” Get to the point of your message, and get there fast. Make it abundantly clear what you want the reader to know or do. Drop the flowery introductions and engage readers from the start. Compel your audience to keep reading.
2. Embrace the “nut graph.” The “nut graph” is the point of a story in a nutshell. The paragraph (or a few sentences) explains to your readers why they should care.
3. Write in active voice. Active voice uses the sentence structure of subject, verb, object. Writing in active voice is clear, short and direct, and it avoids complicated and wordy sentences. It is easier for readers to read and understand, which is a good thing.
4. Use reporting skills. You can’t write your way out of insufficient or boring information. You can, however, find interesting information that will keep your audience’s attention. Provide context and describe why it matters.
5. Make it personal. Understand who is reading your writing, and consider why your readers should care about what you’re communicating to them. Use an example or story to illustrate your point.
6. Be your own toughest editor. Your first draft shouldn’t be your final draft. On your first edit, you should be able to cut at least 10 percent. Read. Edit. Repeat.
7. Get a mentor. A good editor at your workplace is essential to improving your writing. Another set of eyes can catch typos, provide feedback on readability and help bring your content to its utmost potential. If you don’t have an editor at your workplace, find an outside resource.
8. Read quality writing. As you read, consider how the author organizes complex information and leads the reader through the story. Read both short- and long-form writing in such outlets as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post. Mix in longer-form writing from publications like The Atlantic and the New Yorker. Rolling Stone often does excellent exposés and descriptions of big issues facing our country.
9. Write. The only way to improve your writing is to write. If your job does not involve much writing, find ways to get experience, such as volunteering with a nonprofit.
These tips can help anyone, at any level at their career. Communicating in a clear and compelling way is always needed.