copywriting

The value of good writing

I was recently asked to write a column for Spotlight, a magazine produced by the National Union of Students which is distributed to students’ union staff and officers. I chose to write about the value of good writing.

The theme of the issue is ‘Crafting your message’ and it is cool to see communications as a focus for an issue. It’s also cool that this issue is being put together by Demon Media, the student media team at De Montfort Students’ Union.

I chose ‘good writing’ as my topic as it is something important that I think is often overlooked in our rush to publish and share. Ironically it nearly went to print with a typo but let’s pretend that was intentional.

The power of words

The power of words fascinates me. The Government Digital Service found, for example, that changing the wording on one button increased clickthroughs by 600%. Seriously, their choice of word made a concrete, tangible difference. A word! In our cash and time-strapped worlds, knowing things like that can make such a difference and make our content work harder.

The data nerd in me loves things like that. It’s why I love doing things like split-testing email sign-up forms for our freshers newsletter. It demonstrates what a difference words can make.

Content design

I’ve found the approach of the Government Digital Service (yes, I talk about them a lot. I love them and my Feedly collection is quite GDS heavy) insightful. They refer to ‘content design’ which highlights the importance of layout and thinking about how best to present and communicate information rather than just slapping it onto a page. Sarah Richards, GDS Head of Content Design, talks on her blog about the need for editors to design.

Jo

May 22nd, 2014|Content|0 Comments|

Things I’ve been reading recently

In an attempt to get some of the things I find interesting out of my head and into my blog I thought I’d share some links on a semi-regular basis.

I’d love to see what you’ve been reading and pondering so feel free to leave some suggestions in the comments or tweet them to me – @jowalters.

These links come largely from my Feedly saved items. You can read more about some of the blogs I subscribe to in my earlier post and see more of the things I’m bookmarking at delicious.com/jowalters.

What’s a Playbook and why do I need one? – Kim Townend, Government Design Service Social Media blog

The gov.uk team have released an alpha version of their guide outlining how and why they use various social media channels with lots of useful tools and insights.

Seven useful tips to help with your mobile copywriting – David Moth, Econsultancy

Most of these tips actually apply to writing on the web regardless of platform but show that writing mobile requires special consideration. As I’m going to be running training on writing for the web again soon I’ll be making sure I’m covering these points.

Inside a service manager’s head – Giles Turnbull, Government Digital Service blog

Yes it’s another GDS post but a) I love them, and b) I subscribed to even more of their feeds last week so I’m catching up on things! This post talks about moving to digital from paper, working within guidelines and various other things that I’ll be doing at work in my new role as Digital Engagement Manager so it is interesting to see how other organisations handle it.

Five simple ideas for free content curation on Twitter – Ben Davis, Econsultancy

Ideas for content sources including Spotify playlists which I’ve found these work well, both sharing existing playlists and asking for contributions to themed collaborative lists.

This column will change your life: interestingness v truth – Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian

“A theorist is considered great, not because his theories are true, but because they are interesting.” Even in the world of academia, most people aren’t motivated by the truth. What they want, above all, is not to be bored.”

This article – from a regular column I find interesting (and hopefully truthful) – reminds me of one of my favourite quotes from ‘Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck‘; “An accurate but useless idea is still useless”. I’m not advocating misinformation or inaccuracy but sometimes we lose the human factor which makes something interesting in the pursuit of complete (and sometimes boring) accuracy.

Vintage sexism: 20 things men don’t like about women in the office – Maya, Feministing

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

Amazing.

On that note I’m off to offer some impudent criticism and ask impertinent questions!

Jo