Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Writing for New Media: The New Inverted Pyramid

This is probably an obvious point to anyone in Marketing these days, but I've noticed a pattern in what I do every day when it comes to content. When we have a new product or feature that we need to communicate, we start with a print piece. It's usually a two-sided page of copy that gets laid out to look nice and gets distributed to our field sales team as a hard copy and to our Web sales team as a PDF. Let's say there's about 800 words in the piece.

I'm given the copy (hopefully as a Word document and not a PDF) and I rewrite it to work on a Web page. I shorten copy, remove marketing-speak, turn paragraphs into bullets, make it scannable, etc. Hopefully I've cut the copy down to about 350 words.

Then I take that copy and consolidate further for an email, which, if I'm smart will link back to the Web page I just created. Now, I'm chopping out any remaining fat and selectively leaving out even some of the more important details. Now I'm down about 125 words.

Next I'm taking that copy and pounding it flat as schnitzel to post on Social Media. Sure, you get 141 characters on Twitter, but who has time to read a tweet that long? I'll keep it under 100 characters.

Finally, I'm taking that copy and consolidating down to three lines of text for a Google text ad. A short headline and two short lines of copy. Maybe 85 characters.

Illustrated, the process looks like this:

I guess this is a daily reminder of A) How we consume content and B) How important it is for today's Marketers to know how to distill a message down to its core over and over again. You have to spend a lot of time asking the questions: "Why is this really important to the intended audience?" and "How do I say that as succinctly as humanly possible?

1 comment:

Moist Rub said...

I do the same thing with my experiences in life, but I don't stop at the Social Media stage. I continue to the "Who gives a shit" stage, which sustains my apathetic existence. Or course, it's hard to ever get anything done this way.