making a point

What’s Your Point? Are You Making It Effectively in Content Marketing?

When you scroll through the LinkedIn news feed at lunch, ever find yourself feeling unsated by the offerings of article links? Although the attached articles are purportedly written for a B2B or B2C audience, they often lack the most important function of storytelling: conveying a point.

For example, did the article on resiliency really give you actionable pointers or resources on becoming more resilient? Was it more like a pep talk than a TED Talk? Did the trade publication article quickly give your insight or did it drive you into a bunch of Google searches?

The information superhighway is jammed with useless information. Assuming most purveyors of clunky articles were trying to showcase a product or service, we can apply the following rule here: the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Pro tip: the opening of an article should immediately make your point. See above. The problem of poorly crafted content is identified. Plus, the solution is offered right away; you must convey a point.

In news writing, the direct approach is called for with the so-called inverted pyramid. In this schematic, the most important information is placed at the top. As the story continues, it winnows down to the smaller details and background. Far too often, content marketing fails because the most crucial information is buried. Perhaps people don’t want to give away the farm, so they try to tease the audience into following along through a long, drawn-out (i.e., boring) story.

Your article headline and first paragraph should clearly state what your pitch is all about. Avoid metaphors, flowery language and ambiguity. You are trying to tell a story, so stop wasting time  â€“ that of yours and others — with fluff.

If you are not a talented writer, hire one with extensive business writing experience. Do not seek the cheapest option. The old adage of you get what you pay for applies to content writing and editing. You don’t want to have to re-do it yourself, but if you go cheap, you will end up doing that.

Another pitfall is cutesy or coy writing. Again, write with direct language. I currently subscribe to a couple of free email newsletters that are supposed to be headline services. The headlines are so darned cute and dripping with whimsy, I have to stop and read further – as in elsewhere – to know what they are trying to say. Headlines should not be ambiguous or vague. Headlines should be specific and explicit.

A headline that is not clear on its subject is also likely to get lost in the search-engine optimization game. Make sure your topic is a noun in your headline.

You are not just attempting to place a thumb-stopping speed bump in front of people. You are seeking to reach an audience that will buy your widget or service. Tell them why. Tell them how. Above all, tell them exactly what it is at the outset. You don’t get another chance several paragraphs into the article because many people won’t get that far. If you have reached this point and want to hire Adroit Narratives to write or edit your company blogs, newsletters, and social media, then contact for more information and to discuss the rate schedule for content management.


B2B Blogging with Polish and Panache

Need to convince your audience that you know your stuff? Then you better know your audience first. Now, you can better address them.

Ask yourself (or better yet ask them) how much do you already know about this topic? How interested are you in learning more? Why do you want to hear about it from me?

Now that you ideally have the audience’s attention, you must keep it. One surefire way to lose their interest is to misspeak. In writing, the equivalent is a glaring typo. Nothing says I don’t quite care about getting this all right like a big, fat spelling error. In this day and age of social media and texting, we’ve gotten quite used to seeing spelling and grammatical errors, but are we completely inured to these shortcomings?

If your senior management sends an email with a new company directive and you spot typos, just how seriously are you going to take the memo? It might inspire you to dust off your resume rather than fall in line with the new policy or initiative.

Likewise, how would your customer take it if you dashed off a proposal to them and it was riddled with errors? You get the idea. The same goes for website content, blogs and social media posts by businesses. No matter how casual we may become in tenor and tone, no business wants to leave a tweet hanging out there with a typo.

What about the style of your business blog and digital marketing? Are you striking the right chord? This might be one of the more challenging aspects of social media and blogging. Yes, you want to have a little fun, but certainly not too much. A seasoned editor can ensure your content captures just the right balance between informative and entertaining.

To be sure, you cannot please all people all the time and critics may still emerge. You just want to showcase as much good material as possible. To do so, hire professional, experienced marketers and copy editors. If you write your own content for websites, blogs, etc., then bring in an editor to review the material before it is published.

If you attempt some panache but it comes out as frilly or silly, the editor will put a stop to it. The editor might even add an appropriate flourish. This is what people in the craft call “good writing.” Yes, that is the technical term. This ability is not God-given. It is a talent honed with extensive practice.

When it comes to content marketing and good writing, employing a great editor will make your efforts more effective.

For more information, contact Katharine Fraser at

Robot and poet

On Writing: Who Does It Better, a Robot or a Person?

Today, I received an email pitch on the wonders of artificial intelligence writing. AI robots can write faster and more prolifically than a human, the pitch noted.

Bots, such as Watson, have written ad copy variants, the proponent of AI copywriting informed me. (I have no idea if a bot wrote the email, but I am guessing it’s possible given how dull the wording is.)

AI is already used to spit out news blurbs generated by sports scores and financial statements, the pitch added. Uh-huh, but can the robot tell you about how a pitcher reacted to a certain call or provide context for financial results that might be counterintuitive for some reason that is not in the data? Sure, speed is of the essence, but for those who want to immediately see numbers, they can already get them in that format.

Now, as someone who has written a fair share of earnings reports, I do think it’s silly for a human to get bogged down in writing a long, comprehensive overview of a report that already is an easy-to-read long, comprehensive overview of financial data. By the time a human writes one sentence, computers are already trading off the statement’s data. But a human with institutional knowledge and historical perspective can place the data points in context.

Granted, a bot could do that too, if programmed with all the permutations and historical data. Well, maybe. It would lack emotion and sincerity. It would also be bereft of an authority that only a human can possess: experience.

A human can tell you what it’s like to walk a mile in his or her shoes, based on experience. My bot emailer cited an example of AI writing merchandise descriptions for e-commerce of shoes. Sure, it can describe color, size and mode of dress. That’s nice, but what is it like to wear them? For that, a consumer will likely read the reviews written by real customers. This is where experience can provide specifics, such as whether a pair of boots was truly waterproof, as advertised.

Making your reader feel as if they are there in the space you are describing is essential to good writing. This is what made writers such as Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe, known for their New Journalism style of lively, descriptive writing. Such a writer would not tell you the specs on a pair of loafers; he would tell you about the type of person wearing it, which is much more descriptive and useful.

Same goes with blogs about businesses. The blog is an opportunity to persuade a prospect that you product or service is precisely what they need to reach a goal or resolve a problem. You don’t want to waste time dwelling on the nuts and bolts of how you do your job. Instead, explain why you do it a certain way. In other words, don’t just tell them (like a robot would). Show them.


Katharine Fraser, Adroit Narratives

Cave painting analogy to social media

How Social Media Isn’t Different from Traditional Media

Social media is credited with communications breakthroughs, bringing seemingly instant fame to the previously voiceless and helping brands reach their best customers with targeted messaging. But it is really anything new?

Early man painted stories on cave walls. These large graphics told of their triumphs and dreams. Kind of like Pinterest boards.

After man learned to utilize and control fire, humans sent smoke signals across the horizon to alert each other of their goings on. Just like Twitter.

Can you hear me now?

In more recent centuries, we had the town crier, whose job it was to call out every hour if all was well or if something required attention. Now, we all have that friend on Facebook who updates every little thing as well as the big issues of our days.Colonial men for town crier to social media analogy.

The printing presses of American Colonial days brought us pamphleteers. These narratives are now told on websites, blogs, or in your crazy uncle’s diatribe on Facebook.

During President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration, the nation paused to listen to his fireside chats on the radio. Now, we have Trump tweets to alert us to the pulse of the White House. The nation definitely hears him, right?

Of course, we can’t forget the old soap box, upon which people could stand in a town square to make their voices heard. Now, we have video raps by Eminen and some random people you never heard of ranting into their phone cameras in cars.

flaw: current lack of accountability in social media

So, what’s wrong with social media? Currently, there is a gaping void when it comes to accountability. Traditional media, such as newspapers and TV, continue to face accountability. If something is libel or slander, they face lawsuits. The defense against libel and slander is truth. That’s if you end up in court, of course.Old-time radio to refer to fireside chats are akin to Trump tweets.

Propagandists from abroad leveraged the power of Facebook as a far-reaching medium to publish fake news, such as Pizzagate, and there hasn’t been anyone held accountable for that falsity.

As for businesses on social media, they can face harsh backlashes for poorly executed messages, such as the Dove soap ad with a black woman morphing into a white woman. In that case, the company deserved criticism.

Other times, however, social media can fail businesses, such as allowing negative reviews by people who are not verified customers. Before social media, a person could stand on the sidewalk ranting negative things about your business, but it would not have too much effect. Now, a disgruntled ex-employee, crazy customer or unscrupulous competitor can damage a brand.

This is where social media gets a bad rap, and deservedly so.

The false rumors problem can scare people away from social media, for fear their message won’t be believed if conveyed on these platforms. For example, in a recent blog, I related how a water utility was not keeping residents updated during a flooding crisis because it’s leadership considered social media to be a misleading grapevine. In response, its customers suggested at a public meeting that it provide daily and intraday updates during a crisis on its website and then link to those updates with social media.

be part of a better social media landscape

Your customers and prospects are looking for you on social media. Your message can be delivered directly to them, and in large numbers, with targeted social media advertising and content.

Businesses cannot ignore social media. It’s not going away. You’ve got to be in to win it. You don’t need to saturate your social media outlets, but you should consistently and programmatically get your messages out.

What kind of messages? Tell stories about good customer experiences. Paint a picture of how your product or services make life better for your buyers.Cave painting analogy to social media

Pick which social channels to be on. Select the most appropriate handful. Do not try to do it all. Decide which mix of media showcase your stuff best, e.g., blogs, videos, graphics, etc.

Plan your social media content calendar around events, sales campaigns and seasonal specials. Be a part of a larger discussion and share relevant stories by others with your audience with your own thoughts.

Define yourself first, before others try to do it for you. No one can do that better than yourself.

For more information, contact communications consultant source url how do i find my public ip address using cmd pourquoi on prend du viagra thesis about filipino language pdf reviews of cialis super active buy cialis online singapore teaching philosophy paper how to write a thesis for a research paper examples free dissertation editing software restating the thesis in the conclusion which statement summarizes the main idea of mark antonys speech best? follow url sample chicago style annotated bibliography karnataka 2nd puc biology question papers rural marketing research papers follow url when will viagra be generic go to site criteria for evaluating essays essays on challenges overcome courseworksplus welfare thesis statement get link how to write text on macbook air source link order meds for uti online Katharine Fraser.


Crates representing the concept of content.

A Plea Against Content

Please don’t call it content. It’s a story, a narrative, a digest of valuable information. Content just sounds like some stuff you shoved into a space without much consideration that the stuff should be interesting or helpful.

The word content did not spring from the mind of a writer. Similarly, the word blog is short for web log. A log is usually a register of data in chronological order, such as the captain’s log on a ship. Those logs do contain valuable information, and in some cases, compelling narratives.

A few years back, I was working as an editor (not a content reviewer, mind you) and a company that historically was in the publishing business. It evolved into an information provider. A colleague was walking guests across the floor (used to be called a newsroom) and swept his hand in our direction, pointing out we were the content creators. I cannot help but note that the website of this company still touts its news, data and analysis. See? News, data and analysis are specifics, while content is a bland blob of something.

What exactly is content?

A lot of people don’t know what content is. I once encountered a guy who asserted that social media and content marketing are different things. Note: he is in a different business. I’m still scratching my head if he thinks social media posts go out without any content in them. People are confused because the word content is unclear to them.

For content marketing, it is essentially marketing copy. You are telling your customers what you do, why you do it, why you do it better than the competition and how what you do is valuable. This can come in the form of a special offer, a personal story, an educational article about a product or current event or even beautiful images related to your product or service.

I agree wholeheartedly with the story told here by the Content Marketing Institute about content marketing failures. This entity even claims to be the first to call it “content marketing.” Because some people have heard of that, I will use the term myself, but I really don’t like it. For one client, I recommended we call the blog section of their website “Stories & Videos.” It is specific and it far more inviting for a click than “Pile of Content Here.”

Yes, I call my blog just that, but when you land on the page, I talk about tips and insights. I am sharing perspective, advice and experiences. Will I continue to use the word content? Sure, but begrudgingly so.

Words have jobs to do and they should serve very specific roles.  A word like content is just terribly vague. When I was a kid, my family hosted an exchange student from Spain. One day we walked into CVS and the store was having some kind of inventory blowout. There were stacks of products and big sale signs. My sister remarked, “wow, look at all this stuff.” Our guest was not fluent in English and asked for a definition of stuff. My sister was stumped. Stuff, you know, stuff. It’s stuff you have and put somewhere. It’s stuff. Sounds like content to me.

Adroit Narratives logo with daily miracle imagery.

The Daily Miracle of Content Creation

How do you decide what to write every day when it comes to video scripts, blogs and social media posts for your business’s digital marketing?

Perhaps you’ve created an “editorial calendar” and pegged its topics to your seasonal offerings or otherwise organized a list of topics to systematically cover in this content marketing. Great! Plus, you probably know you ought to stay consistent and push out this original material on a regular basis.

Now, if you are lucky, determined and resourceful, you have created time in the schedule to do this. Or rather, imagine you floated to work on a cloud and miraculously have time to write a bunch of social media posts and blogs. Now what?

Do you have writer’s block? Is a cursor blinking on your screen, calling out begging for copy and tormenting you with its relentless blinking? Perhaps you do not like this.

Did you know there is an entire segment of the population who likes writing. Many of them, by dint of education and formal training, have actually become quite adept at this writing thing.

The Daily Miracle

Many of these writers are veterans of the Daily Miracle, an age-old ritual commonly known as news writing. When I first got out of journalism school, I wrote for a weekly business newspaper, which meant you had some time to craft your story. The bummer was that anyone writing for a daily newspaper could easily scoop your weekly news outlet. (To supply some context, I’m old enough to remember the Stone Age before news was available online. During this period, the Internet was primarily used by academics and such, and not commercial enterprises, newspapers and certainly not common peons or ink-stained wretches.)

When I moved to a daily financial services paper, I became subject to the overlords of the Daily Miracle, who required me to file my stories every weekday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. This was especially fun the month I spent reporting from San Francisco on New York time. Yes, I had to submit my copy by 11:30 a.m. Pacific time. This was more than 20 years ago, yet I still think of 2:30 p.m. as a major demarcation in a workday.Adroit Narratives logo with daily miracle imagery.

As a young writer, I often felt stressed out by the 2:30 p.m. deadline and, moreover, by the requirement that I have a good story to write about every work day. Sometimes the morning commute served as a big brainstorm when I thought of everyone I would call to find a story. Usually, I had written a lot of my story by lunchtime. Meeting the big deadline become more and more doable.

Nowadays, I still write the daily miracle, mostly for clients’ digital marketing campaigns. When it comes to ensuring I keep up with my own blogs, I can feel like a plumber with a leaky faucet in my own home. When I must write, I just shut out everything else, reflect and start typing.

Be sure that you create a grand plan for content marketing and then devise ways to create achievable every day action items to make it happen.

For more information on content marketing, contact consultant Katharine Fraser.

Graphic reading I love writing

No Such Thing as Free Writing

Here is my free professional advice: talent is not free. I recently received an unsolicited offer, i.e., spam email, from a guy offering his free writing services to me. He wanted me to post his blogs on my website. Riiiiiiiight.

My response included this tidbit of advice: “never work for free. Professional writing is a craft and it commands a price.”

Another offer for poor writing services arrived as as a comment on a client’s well-written article posted to their company website. See below – do you see the grammatical error here?

Best Writing Service

Get an expert academic writing assistance! We can write any post on any subject within the tightest deadline.

To correct the syntax, the first line should read, “Get expert academic writing assistance.” But, I’m wondering why this marketer is offering academic writing to a commercial entity. Don’t get me started on opening a sentence with the word “get.” Also, do they only provide a single service? Better make that “Worst Writing Services.”

Am I nit-picking? You bet. I used to get paid to pick apart other people’s writing. News editors see the darndest things. Many errors result from rushed writing, which is an occupational hazard for reporters writing about breaking news.

To give you an example, I will out myself as someone who may have goofed at some point in a 20+-year-career as a working journalist. I was covering a fire at an oil refinery or some such and urgently pulled together all the facts. This involves pressing and priming real people for information, not just running a Google search. I wrote a tight story with clean copy to quickly deliver the best information to our paying subscribers.

The story’s editor remarked it was excellent work, but for a crucial omission: the time element. The story’s first sentence left out the fact this disaster had broken out that very day. Why would I tell you this? To illustrate that good writing requires self-awareness.

There is an inverse correlation I have observed many times: the worst writers are the most confident. Good writers check themselves, use the dictionary, perform solo dramatic readings of their work to listen for and detect errors, and seek review by others. Bad writers think they nailed it. Bad writers are also the sort of people to offer their work for free. This reminds me of a job applicant for a reporting job who boasted in his cover letter he would “work long and hard,” if he got the position. The editor moaned, “No, I don’t want anyone who wants to work long and hard.” His premise there being that good writers can quickly synthesize information to deftly draft a compelling, error-free story.

If someone offers to write a blog for a buck (per blog, not the $1.50-2.00/word rate magazine articles can command), ask them how they can be so cheap. Ask them for a resume and work examples. Ask them if they provide content writing as a full-time profession. Ask them if they love writing. There are many factors that foster excellent writing skills, including relevant educational background and professional credentials, but the love of writing is essential too.

For a quote on my writing services, please contact Katharine Fraser of Adroit Narratives, LLC.

love writing

On Good Writing and How to Get It

When I tell people I am a writer, I tend to get two reactions:

“Oh, I could never write well.”

“Do you like it?”

For the latter, consider whether I would work as a professional writer for more than 20 years if I disliked it. As for the former proposition, the only way to become is a good writer is to do a lot of writing.

You also must be willing to take and incorporate critiques. In college, my two majors happened to require contrasting writing styles. In journalism, you start a story by telling the reader the upshot or outcome. For history, by contrast, you start at the beginning and build a case toward a conclusion. One day, my history advisor stopped me on campus to tell me that my writing had become “weird.” That was to say I opened a history paper with a news lede.

At my first newspaper job, I was blessed with strong editors who gently guided me away from writing too much or writing in a manner too fancy to get the job done. With good writing, there is no need to gild the lily. You just say it straight. Get to the point. Yet so much of what we read online buries the lede. For example, how many recipe blogs start out with hundreds and hundreds of words before mentioning the recipe’s ingredients and directions? To be fair, I publish a lifestyle blog that narrates my cooking adventures, but they are rarely more than 500 words and the instructions are higher up in the copy. By contrast, I have found myself scrolling and scrolling and scrolling down a recipe post before finding the recipe.

Now, to be sure, there is some SEO method to this madness, but let’s not get totally carried away by padding blogs with search terms. I also suspect that people who write meandering musings in their blog never had a tough, wise-cracking news editor bearing down on their copy. Remember, the whole point of writing something is to engage the reader. What is the use of bringing someone to your blog if you are boring?

You have just a moment to grab their attention, which is the objective of a news headline. That’s akin to a great Tweet or the opening of a social media post. In news writing, people ask themselves – before hitting the keystrokes – what is my lede? (Lede is old-time news spelling for lead sentence.) In other words, what is the most important, new thing you need to convey to the reader? For marketing a product or service, you should give the reader information they just may not have been aware of; this educational material shows you know your stuff and gives the audience a reason to know who you are.

Say you own a jewelry store. Running a social media post about the cheapest diamonds in town is going to send the wrong message. What if instead you crafted a post about an electric toothbrush being a diamond’s best friend? That made you curious, right? Turns out, some jewelers recommend using a electric toothbrush to polish your diamond. Just don’t use the same brushhead you put in your mouth. My point is social media is supposed to be fun and you can use elements of humor and surprise to be quirky in marketing. Still, don’t go crazy. If you are a small business and doing your own marketing, be sure to go to trusted friends as sounding boards and test out any wacky ideas.

The beauty of social media, though, is it more often rewards experiments than it punishes mistakes. Your experiment would have to be really, really awful to hurt much. I like to try different art or animations for the images. I play with video editing and photo editing on design platforms. As a result, I can stay fresh with content presentation.

The writing can be playful too. As for regular day-to-day writing for your newsletters and social media, have a coworker read it first. At the very least, they can clean up the copy to free it of typos, which can hurt your credibility. Finally, one piece of biased advice: do not publish yourself unless you are an experienced professional editor.


Katharine Fraser, Adroit Narratives

How to Ensure Your Marketing is Coordinated

Whether your business is large or small, you want the messaging of your marketing to be coordinated. For corporations, where most of these functions are performed in-house, there should be greater assurance that all the engaged parties are working off the same page. For smaller businesses, there arguably is more control exerted because there are fewer people involved. But, in either case, you should run some reality checks to be sure.

Firstly, some basics for big organizations. Do the sales people know any of the people who produce your widgets? Moreover, are the people who create your marketing content familiar with, let alone in regularly contact with, either the production or sales groups? Both?

Are you, the senior management, interfacing with these groups and assured they all are in agreement about your company’s core competency, target markets and execution? If you haven’t internally communicated the plan, how will these constituencies properly and effectively communication your business story?

When you outsource any marketing function, be sure to clearly communicate your needs and objectives to that party so that they can represent your business in a seamless fashion. Are they asking you the right questions? Enough questions?

Questions for the Marketers

Now, you ought to be asking questions too. Ask the marketers, in house or external, how they will decide what factors will drive their content creation and how they will map out a campaign. If this is an outside agency or consultant, is that person in turn outsourcing components of the work to other parties?

It is possible you are buying a bundle of services from someone who is building that bundle with an assortment of subcontractors? If that is the case, then you ought to know and be involved in approving the selections. The key is that you know who is writing the content (e.g., blogs, social media posts, ads, etc.) and that the content writer knows you. How can they channel the voice of your business if they don’t have direct knowledge of the business and your approach to it?

It Starts from the Top

Ensure that all the parties involved in your marketing campaigns, at every level and in every facet, are working in concert with each other. As the business owner, this is your responsibility. Are you asking for regular feedback and reports from the people performing the marketing? Are they offering to be proactive with you?

It’s often said that the tone is set at the top, which is why it is important that the tone of your marketing reflects the C-suite. Similarly, what is the tone of your audience? Are you speaking the same language as your customers? Again, the tone of the marketing campaign ought to reflect the marketplace as well.

How engaged is the top management in the marketing campaign? Delegation is vital to operating a business, but so is engagement. Don’t set it and forget it. Don’t assume everyone is doing what they are supposed to do when it comes to delivering your marketing message.

Online Marketing Advantages

The beauty of online marketing is that you can monitor it in real-time along with your marketplace. You can see the wording and the results. Online marketing has the advantage of being nimble. If a message falls flat in social media, you move on; you aren’t stuck with a particular message for a long period of time. If a message works, you re-engage with a similar message.

Another advantage in online marketing is the interactive nature. The marketing team can directly engage with customers in positive discussions. The online marketing, when well-thought out and executed, can fall under an umbrella message to your market. Everyone involved should adhere that that umbrella terminology and thus each post (social media, blogs, etc.) will stay consistent in tone and content. If not, it will be obvious and can be quickly rectified. You just want to be sure that the parties responsible for content creation are thorough, accurate, nimble and responsive — responsive to you and your customers.

For more information about online content creation, especially blogs and social media, contact consultant Katharine Fraser of Adroit Narratives.