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i WED: SXSW on marrying writing, editing, designing

Unifying your content in a multimedia era

We’ve all heard the expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but when viewers look at your webpage, app, and yes, even book, they instantly judge whether it’s worth their time to continue reading or not. That’s why it’s imperative that your writing, editing, and design are presented as a package that represents what you want it to.

At this year’s South by Southwest conference, Roy Peter Clark – writer, editor, teacher, and writing coach – and Mario R. Garcia – newspaper and magazine designer – presented on the way you should “wed” these three aspects of presentation with their session, i WED (writing, editing, designing).

One of the most important principles of creating well-designed content is to start with the blank page and design and write together, according to Clark and Garcia. Don’t simply write the text and add design elements afterward or you will lose valuable opportunity to make your content an experience rather than just some words and a picture.

It would be like watching a movie with no music and minimal settings. To tell a story with emphasis, you have to consider all parts with equal care.

Techniques and elements to consider

  • Making content design functional and intrinsic
  • Storyboarding ahead of time, and not repeating content
  • Planning key points and emphasizing them using design elements
  • Using white space as punctuation to create emphasis and tension
  • Creating an interesting dissonance of conflicting components; Clark explains this further in his TED talk in the video above
  • Designing for the different platforms on which content is published

Writing, editing, and designing content for different screens

This infographic shows that attention spans online are shorter than ever - which is why it's so important to make your content emphasize your points effectively on different platforms. Image found here: http://www.huckleberrybranding.com/category/blog

This infographic shows that attention spans online are shorter than ever – which is why it’s so important to make your content emphasize your points effectively on different platforms.
Image found here: http://www.huckleberrybranding.com/category/blog

Many newspapers will now cover the essentials of a story immediately for their websites and mobile apps, and then write a more in-depth story later to be published on media for which readers tend to have longer attention spans.

This trend keeps in mind the way to design differently for each platform, and allows readers to get what they want out of your various applications.

In fact, The New York Times has a set of staff dedicated to designing content for their mobile app NYT Now, which gives bullet points of stories and links to the longer articles on the website.

  • Phone – Readers on this screen have shorter attention spans, about 3 minutes, and would therefore need more truncated and bullet-pointed design.
  • Tablet – Readers here have more engagement, have more time to spend, and are looking for more entertainment than on phones.
  • Online – You want to encourage engagement and sharing, and must also write for “continual partial attention,” meaning thoughtful use of subheads and bullet points to encourage readers to continue reading.
  • Print – These readers can’t interact as immediately as with the other media, and this reader has already invested in your content by the time they have the print version in their hands, so you can go more in-depth. You still want to encourage engagement with your brand, however.

As Garcia and Clark say, “Digital news is the raw meat; print is the cooked meat.”

While Twitter and blogs are fantastic for giving an impression of the raw meat of a story, you don’t want to lose sight of how the whole dinner will come together.


[social_share style=”circle” align=”horizontal” heading_align=”inline” text=”Don’t forsake the real meat of a story — more SXSW takeaways @NewMediaProf” heading=”Insightful? Share with your followers now” facebook=”1″ twitter=”1″ google_plus=”1″ linkedin=”1″ pinterest=”1″ /]

While this session was strongly tied to multimedia from a publisher’s perspective, what takeaways do you see for your brand? Looking forward to your seeing perspective in the comments.

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Content and Social Media Marketing Webinar

By Suzanne McDonald

If content “is the only marketing left,” as a quote from entrepreneur Seth Godin goes, than businesses better make sure their content is attracting customers.


In a webinar by Smart Insights and Bright TALK, “Content and Social Media Marketing,” businesses can learn how to use content for marketing – and what to avoid so content doesn’t harm the brand’s image.


What exactly is content marketing? It’s “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined target audience,” content marketing authors Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett said in their 2009 book, “Get Content, Get Customers.”


Content marketing “barely registered as a concept” until a few years ago, according to Google search trends for the topic, as cited in the webinar. Not until early 2011 did searches for “content marketing” finally start to rise – and then they soared.


Common content formats:

  •  Facebook
  • Twitter
  • emails to subscriber base
  • A Wiki page
  • blog post
  • LinkedIn
  • press release
  • banner ads


Those are the most common formats, and they fall into four “quandrants,” or general styles:

  1. Entertain (example: quizzes or branded videos)
  2. Inspire (celebrity endorsements or community forums)
  3. Convince (case studies or interactive demonstrations)
  4. Educate (infographics or press relases)


A few formats fall in between, such as articles, which are on the line between entertain and educate, and ratings, which are between inspire and convince. Ideally, a business would find the right balance between the four quandrants, something that could be struck by having customer reviews or questionnaires.


The old saying “quality over quantity” applies to content marketing. If a business overloads its Twitter followers or Facebook fans with too many posts, they would, at minimum, lose effectiveness. At most, those followers and fans would unfollow or post negative remarks.


Interesting content is a top-three reason why people follow certain brands on social media, and there are trends to give hints on the best ways companies can utilize their content:

  •  3 in 4 marketers say compelling content is a factor in closing sales.
  •  70% prefer getting to know a company by reading articles rather than advertisements.
  • 60% feel more positive about a company after reading content on its website.


A tip to remember, as the webinar puts it: “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.” In other words, engage with customers instead of simply talking to them, and think like a publisher instead of an advertiser.


Travel review websites are a great example in the amount of influence they have, especially among younger people. Word-of-mouth marketing is the primary factor behind 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions.


Other tips to consider:

  • Think of what your content will look like on mobile devices – or whether it will even work at all.
  • Most Facebook fans (83% in one study) do not see your posts because they don’t stay visible on newsfeeds for very long.
  • A high number of “likes” and comments on even a plain-text post will drive more reach, or influence, than another post that might seem more likely to attract buzz simply because it has a photo.


Facebook has an internal algorithm called EdgeRank that it uses to gauge a user’s influence. It is based on four factors:

  • Affinity, or your relationship with a brand; you are more likely to see a post if your friends engage with it.
  • Type of post. Simple status updates trump other content.
  • Time. The older a post is, the less likely it will be viewed.
  • Level of negative feedback a post and brand receives.


Finally, some social media networks are more effective than others, depending on whether your communication is business-to-business or business-to-customer:

  • LinkedIn – the most effective for B2B, but far less so for B2C.
  • Blogs and Twitter have the best balance between both B2B and B2C.
  • Facebook is far more effective for B2C than B2B.
  • Others are far less effective for both methods, including Slideshare, Delicious, Scribd and Flickr.

If  you’d like to listen to the Webinar yourself, check out the BrightTalk Website!