By Anna McDermott
This article could also be titled “How I do my job” but that’s not very catchy or informative. Marshall Communications has clients from all walks of life, so as content creator I am tasked with writing copy about numerous subjects, many of which, at the onset, I am unfamiliar with. Over the years, I have learned some tricks that help me accomplish this and create content that is engaging and helpful.
Read. A lot: Anyone in the communications fields should read all the time. News, magazines, books. First, it will keep you up to date on what’s happening in the world, and knowledge is power. This will benefit your clients and your agency. Perhaps more importantly, it will make you a better writer. I have heard that popular writers, like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, devote more time to reading than they spend writing each day. Listening to audiobooks is also a great way to hone your craft. The way your words sound when read aloud is important.
Become an expert: Reading prolifically also helps you become an expert in certain fields. When I’ve written about the banking industry, I spent more of my time reading about current banking practices than I did writing the article. You can start by Googling whatever subject you’re working on and see what news articles relate it to, delve into some history and begin to get a handle on your subject matter. Once you feel like you could have an articulate conversation with someone about the topic, you can start to write.
Write naturally: I believe in writing in as natural a voice as you can. I like to work humor into my writing because it’s comfortable for me but that may not be your style. Of course, humor doesn’t have a place in every situation. I also read everything I write out loud to hear how the flow works. It’s at this step that I often catch some odd phrasing or poor word choices.
Be concise: When you’re up against a world of information, especially online, you really need your writing to have as much bang for the buck as possible. You only have a few seconds to grab a reader’s attention, so think carefully about your opening paragraph. In longer-form pieces, like blog posts, you can ramble a bit more, especially if your readers enjoy spending their time hearing what you have to say. A good example of this is Lieutenant Tim Cotton of the Bangor Police Department, whose long-winded Facebook posts are insanely popular because people love how his style brings to life simple moments in the life of the police station and the city of Bangor.
Get moving: If you’re having trouble sitting down and drafting quality content, get moving! Go for a walk or jog – I usually do a little vinyasa yoga to help get tons of oxygen to my brain – before you sit to write. Bringing up your oxytocin and dopamine levels is a great way to encourage creativity.