Why display copy?

Because ‘readers’ don’t read

I’m often amazed at the amount of energy writers put into perfecting the sentence structure in the fourth paragraph of their piece when those same folks toss off a headline in the 17 seconds before happy hour on a Friday afternoon.

Why display copy?

Put your message where their eyes are Reach skimmers, not just readers, with display copy. Image by Mohammad Metri

The sad truth is, most of your readers will never read the fourth paragraph of your brilliant copy.… Read the full article

Redefine the way you define terms

5 ways to rethink definitions

When I was customizing an in-house writing workshop for a utility company, I wanted to see whether there was a better way to define kilowatt hour, or kWh, for consumers.

Rethink definitions: define unfamiliar terms

Go beyond Definition 101 There’s nothing magic about unfamiliar term, familiar term. In fact, that approach may be getting between you and your audience members. Image by Josh Felise

I knew that a kWh was the work performed by one kilowatt of electric power in one hour and that it was the basic measure of electric energy use.… Read the full article

5 ways to Cut Through the Clutter

Make your messages easier to read, understand

“The problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”
— George Bernard Shaw

Shaw was right. After all, publishing, posting and pressing Send isn’t communicating. (Although they often create the illusion of communication.)

To really communicate, we need to ensure that people 1) pay attention to; 2) understand; 3) remember; and 4) act on our messages. Too often, clutter gets in the way.… Read the full article

Write in verbs, not nouns

Your conference name is not a benefit

Remember Verb, the superhero on “Schoolhouse Rock”? He was great because he could do so many things.

Write in verbs, not nouns

Show readers in action Write about readers using your product, service, program or idea — not about the product, service, program or idea itself. Image by Drew Graham

His theme song went like this:

I get my thing in action (Verb!)
To be, to sing, to feel, to live (Verb!)
That’s what’s happenin’
I put my heart in action (Verb!)
To run, to go, to get, to give (Verb!)
(You’re what’s happenin’)

Well, guess what? … Read the full article

Subheads take the cake

They’re ‘the most important thing you can do’ online

Think of subheads as the icing on the cake.

Subheads help skimmers skim

Piece of cake Readers go for the frosting — aka the subheads — in online stories. That makes it easier for them to find what they’re looking for. Image by Annie Spratt

Skimmers look at subheads to learn what content you’re offering on a webpage, blog post or news release. This creates the layer cake eye-gazing pattern — on an eyetracking heat map, it shows up as a series of horizontal lines.… Read the full article

Make numbers count

Reframe stats to boost understanding

Which is more dangerous? A disease that kills 1,286 out of every 10,000 people it strikes? Or one that kills 12.86% of its victims?

Writing with statistics: Reframe the numbers

The right frame Would the meaning of your number change if you expressed it differently? Image by Sylwia Pietruszka

The former is about 20% more dangerous, said a group of college students, according to an article in Money magazine. In fact, 1,286 out of 10,000 is just a different expression of 12.86%.… Read the full article

Measure A.R.T.

How long will it take them to read?

I am, sadly, monolingual, so I am not able to read 20 minutes, a free commuter newspaper published in Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland.

Measure Average Reading Time

How long is too long? Readers measure the length of your message in time, not space. If you’re smart, you will too. Image by Lukas Blazek

But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate it.

20 minutes lets readers know in its title how much time they’re likely to read the piece.… Read the full article

Reel them in with readability

Yamaha Marine Group communicator makes message 164.57% easier to read

When Austin Roebuck needed to get the word out about how a new bill in Congress would affect his audience of fishing fanatics, he first tried a traditional message. But it weighed in at 25.4 on the Flesch Reading Ease scale — or very hard to read.

Writing for readability

Catch your readers when you cut the bait into smaller, easier-to-consume pieces. Image by Carl Heyerdahl

But then the PR manager for Yamaha Marine Group edited and revised his piece at our most recent Cut Through the Clutter Master Class.… Read the full article

Dry as a bone?

Must web heads be dull?

There’s a lot of sniveling and squawking going on in the web writing community these days. Consider the headlines:

Dog wearing glass and rubber nose

Google never laughs How can you write headlines that rank high in search and amuse your readers? Image by Braydon Anderson

Read the full article

Avoid Google’s wrath

SEO for releases — what works (and what doesn’t) now?

PR pros to Google: Do you love us? Or hate us?

How Google algorithms affect news release ranking

Don’t get struck by Google Avoid spammy SEO techniques that might cause Google to fry your site’s search rankings. Image by Jeremy Thomas

In March 2015, Google News sent PR pros a belated valentine when the search giant announced that news releases would top the “in the news” section of its search results page.… Read the full article

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