Visual aids make writing easier and reading more enjoyable.
Smart writers know a secret. They know that what you write — your choice of words — is only half of any project. The other half is how those words look — everything from your font size to your margin widths. Packaging and presentation matter more than most people appreciate.
This is one reason stores like Gucci and Whole Foods can charge a premium: The layout of their bricks and mortar gives rise to a certain appearance and ambiance. By contrast, while I have nothing against Marshalls or Giant Food, when it comes to aesthetics, their displays just can’t compete.
If you’re reading this, you no doubt have a LinkedIn profile. What you may not have is a full understanding of LinkedIn’s hidden powers — how it can transform your online presence from an afterthought into a model of thought leadership.
Here’s a quick example. LinkedIn offers two fields for your title: One is your career title (how you describe yourself at parties); the other is your job title (what your business card says).
To illustrate: Have you ever heard of the guy known as the “Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs”? Here’s a hint: You know him by his job (rather than career) title: He’s the “National Security Advisor.”
Sadly, when it comes to social media, most people conflate these two appellations. As a result, they miss an invaluable opportunity to optimize their brand in search results — not only on LinkedIn, but also in Google.
When it comes to e-newsletters, everyone knows that your subject line is the silver bullet. What’s more, to point out that you should test this line is, by now, so self-evident as to be a cliché. Yet there’s so much more to the rich tapestry that is email marketing—starting with what we call it.For example, think about the message you’re sending when you refer to your emails as a “blast.” Do you really want to conjure up an image of spam (or bacn) clogging an inbox?
Or consider your sign-up form. Do you thoughtlessly ask people to “subscribe” or to “submit” their email address? C’mon, you can do better than that! Take a cue from the presidential aspirants, who carefully label their CTA buttons “I’m in” (Ted Cruz) and “Join us” (Hillary).
In other words: seize every opportunity for a semantic nudge (a subject I’ve plumbed at length in another deck, Sweat the Small Stuff).
Here are a few more questions to spur your mental gears:
Why PR pros should never say something is too boring/dry/abstract/long/complex to generate buzz.
Piers Morgan says he’s a big fan of Aaron Sorkin’s writing. So big, in fact, that Sorkin’s latest show—which begins with the brilliant, impassioned monologue of a news anchor—inspired him to infuse his own reporting with the zealotry of a convert.
And yet, Morgan’s passion runs only so deep. During an interview last year with the cast of the show, Morgan extolled CNN’s coverage of the Carnival “poop cruise”—how the network steered something “I had absolutely zero interest in” into something “I got completely engrossed in.” The payoff for this programming: the ratings doubled.
Seizing the moment, Sorkin zinged Morgan with the $64,000 question: why can’t the media dedicate the same energy and resources to serious, important news? “Do you think there’s a way that Jeff [Zucker, CNN’s chief] … can apply that same talent to, for instance, the sequester?’”
“Honestly, no,” Morgan shot back. “I think the sequester is one of the most supremely boring stories ever told on television … There are many political stories which are just incredibly dry, and trying to make them come to life … it doesn’t rate.”
That italicized sentence at the bottom of your blog posts isn’t a necessary evil, but an easily exploitable opportunity.
Ten years ago, after you finished reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to a song, it was over; you were done. If you wanted to share your reactions, you saved them for the water cooler.
Today, the traditional indicators of finality — a tombstone mark for an article (∎), the words “the end” for the silver screen, a trio of hashtags (###) for a news release — have been supplanted by a button that beckons you tinno “like,” “retweet,” “pin,” or perform some other variation of social-media sharing.
For example, by displaying a hash tag, TV commercials encourage you to “join the conversation” on Twitter. Magazine articles refer you to a website “for more information.” Even McDonald’s has climbed aboard the bandwagon, stamping QR codes that reveal nutritional data on its carryout bags.
How can you, dear blogger, get in on these gigs and thus propagate your posts? Specifically, how can you milk your content for more followers and fans?
Easy: just start making use of an often-overlooked implement in the marketer’s toolkit: your byline.
When creating their company website, many small businesses defer to their “web guy” on the address. “Oh, JanesFlowers.com isn’t available? Ok, JanesFlowers2.com is fine.”
No! No! No! While seemingly trivial, your URL is in fact critical. Don’t let it be an afterthought; make this decision an integral facet of your planning and branding.
After all, not only will your domain be printed on your business cards and in your email signatures. You’ll also need to pronounce it in a way that leaves no room for confusion.
Consider a few case studies.
Let others sing your praises.
After college, I did what most liberal arts grads do when they come to Washington: I interned at a think tank. As I subsequently embarked on my career, I shied away from the word “intern,” a moniker that I felt would betray my lack of experience. Instead, my bio and LinkedIn profile said I “did media relations” for the Cato Institute.
This was true: I edited op-eds from Cato’s scholars and pitched them to the media; I just didn’t volunteer my job title. I’d argue that this sin of omission is the benign kind of biographical betterment.
We’ve all heard the complaint before: Why doesn’t my Web page appear when I Google [fill in the blank]? To paraphrase George Berkeley: If a Web page is published but can’t be indexed, is it still published?
Let’s face it: If you don’t show up in a search engine’s first 10 results, you don’t exist. Indeed, that Google has made predictive search the default setting only hardens this race to the top. (According to the latest report from comScore, Google continues to process two out of every three queries in the U.S.)
Fortunately, this is a solvable problem—especially if your content contains a unique word or phrase.