May 18 '17
We’re quite the fans of US legal magazine Bigger Law Firm here at Elephant HQ, both the website and magazine are full of cutting edge marketing and business development insight. This one particularly caught our eye: Three Journalism Techniques Your Firm Should Use to Create Compelling Content.
We’ve got former journalists in our team, and they bring a different slant to our content marketing and PR work. We thought we’d share and take a look at this article – plus add a couple more of our own tips to their list of three.
As the article points out; “The Internet is saturated with marketing content, and it is too easy for readers to tune out. When writing is bland and vague, or too sales-oriented, users will scroll or click past it.”
So, if you’re thinking more like a journalist, you are thinking more about how to capture your audience, how to engage your reader in the story, how to deliver all the facts – this in turn leads to better quality content.
The article covers three techniques, we’re not going to repeat all the information here, so jump over and give it a read, but essentially, they’ve already covered:
- Declare & Demonstrate Relevance – making sure it is a topic worth reading, making the headline attention-grabbing and to-the-point.
- Arm the Reader with Facts – do what journalists do: give the reader hard facts, specific examples and reliable sources.
- Tell a Story – as the article says ‘Journalists are committed to reporting accurate information, but they also understand the importance of storytelling. No one is interested in a collection of dry facts. Journalists use the narrative art and even a touch of literary grace to illuminate the significance of their subject. Legal marketing writers can benefit from an understanding of different news writing styles.’
To all this we’d add a few things.
The 5 W’s
The BLF article mentions this, but we think it’s worth pulling out as a point in itself. If you’re thinking of creating an article on a topic, a good way to ensure you are telling the whole story is to use the 5 W’s. This is part of journalism training all over the world.
Who, What, When, Where, Why. If you can answer these questions within the first three or four paragraphs then your reader will understand immediately what you are trying to discuss.
Edit, edit, edit
If you don’t need a word cut it out (so says every editor of any newspaper in existence). There is a tendency, particularly in law, to overload articles, to go into the details and elongate a blog post. Your readers will stay with you until the end if you keep it short and sweet. After writing the article either ask someone else, or go through it yourself, and cut out unnecessary words and sentences.
Think about adding quotes and examples
A nice way to add authority to your articles is to add quotes from trusted sources, or even people within your organisation on the topic. Bring a topic to life with real examples of what you are discussing.
Put all the most interesting information at the beginning
Contrary to what you may believe, the best way to engage readers is not by slowly building up your story and ending with the most interesting part. Readers are far too transient for that. If you don’t capture them immediately they are likely to switch off. Ensure you start with the best bits of information or the main issues. This is also beneficial because today content is often repurposed several times over. Whilst you may be able to publish the full article on your website, you may need a short version for an email, or for Linkedin. Using this method, you can simply cut from the bottom, without losing the most important part of the article.
Look, we’re not suggesting you take a journalism degree, and not all of this is applicable for every piece of content you create. But it’s still important to inject your own personality and writing style. Using some of these strict journalism techniques could help you produce content that will generate more clicks, more readers, more shares and more web hits.