If there’s one area where journalists and public relations professionals are in complete agreement, it’s around writing quality. Whether you’re writing articles, blog posts, emails, or subject lines, great writing trumps all. If your writing is exceptional, more of your articles will get read – and more of your pitches will be spared from the delete button. Unfortunately, great writing skills are only half the equation today. If you really want to drive results with your content, your writing needs to be engaging, interesting, relevant, and compelling, but also linkable.
We’re in a sharing economy today. If you write something great, it should be easy for your readers to share it with their friends. If you’re writing exclusively for print, you significantly limit the reach of your content. In David Meerman Scott’s latest book, World Wide Rave, he stresses the importance of linkable content for driving incredible (often unbelievable) viral marketing results. He urges marketers to remove all barriers to sharing and to make it easy for anyone to consume and share your content. He also provides some great pointers for making your information compelling and interesting, which is a prerequisite for getting people to share your content in the first place.
Bottom line: linkable content is about writing content people will want to link to. The content they will share with others, who in turn share with others. This is how your content goes viral and reaches the maximum number of people possible. Isn’t that what you’re writing for in the first place? It should be.
If you’re not doing so already, evaluate the content you’re producing on a regular basis in terms of its potential appeal to your audience, as well as how easy it is to share across multiple channels. If you only have a basic understanding of this concept, here is some additional food for thought that might help:
- If you write for a newspaper or other print publication, do your articles also appear online? Are the articles available to any vistor to the site for free, or do users need to subscribe or register to read the articles? If the latter, you’re limiting your audience. Encourage management to break down the barriers. A good example of this point is PRWeek, my top source of news for the PR industry. There is so much good content I would love to share with other people, and discussions I’d like to engage in, but the subscription wall stops much of this from happening. People are less likely to share content their readers will have to jump through hoops to access.
- If you write and distribute press releases, do you write them as a journalist would write a story? Do you answer the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How in your release? Do you avoid industry jargon and gobbledygook that is so commonly used in releases these days? Would you want to write about the release if you were a journalist?
- If you do have a newsworthy press release, do you distribute your news on a wire service? Do you also format your release for social media consumption, using a social media release platform like PitchEngine? Do you blog about your own news on your site and provide and easy way for your readers to comment, share and link to your post? Your blog might reach more readers than the publicity you generate – don’t overlook this option. And finally, do you tweet about your news on the day it goes out and update your other statuses across social networks? The list goes on an on. If you’re not doing most of these things, you could be missing out on thousands of readers.
- Back to the journalism side of the equation, do you share links to your recent articles across these channels? You can’t rely on search engine visitors, email and RSS subscribers and your friends and family to pass the word along. You need to get your content into the hands of as many people as possible.
- What are you doing to help people find your content beyond these suggestions? Do you optimize all your content for search engines? If you’re not using descriptive page titles, descriptive permalinks, meta descriptions, meta keywords, alt image text and headers to your advantage, you might be missing out on thousands of people searching for the topics you’re writing about.
- Similarly, all your content should include options for sharing. Make it easy for people to tweet about your content, to share your content via social bookmarking sites, or to email your content to their friends.
This may sound like common sense to a lot of you, but more often than not, great content goes unnoticed because it’s not presented in a format that is easy to discover and share. Writing great, likable content is only half the battle. Today, if you want to get noticed and rack up the results for your hard work, you need to make it easy for your readers to find and share your content.