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By Jennigay Coetzer

It is impossible to write a good article, web copy, promotional material or any other type of content if the writer does not have a good understanding of the topic they are writing about. To produce good content requires not taking anything on face value, making assumptions, or just regurgitating information found on some obscure blog.

When researching topics or interviewing spokespeople, writers should keep probing deeper and deeper, asking questions like, Why? When? Where? Which, What, Who? How? This is the only way to really understand a trend or get to the root of an issue and all the influencing factors that revolve around it.

Similarly, when supporting a statement with a statistic, if the writer understands and can convey the possible implications of the statistic – the messages in the data, this information could enrich the content of their article.

If the content of an article is superficial, it will be obvious to the reader that the writer does not know what he or she is talking about. This will harm the writer’s credibility, will cause the reader much frustration, and it will be a waste of time writing the article, because it is unlikely that anyone will read it.

Writers need to ensure the content of their articles has been well researched, is factually correct, and is interesting from the reader’s perspective and not just from theirs. They also need to ask themselves if the topic they are writing about will be of interest to anyone, apart from them.

Anyone writing articles, or any other written content, should think about what their target audience would be interested in hearing about and not just what they want to tell them. This means anticipating the questions readers might want answered.

As a journalist, I receive hundreds of press releases, and more than 90% of them contain information that is mainly of interest to the company that is sending them out.  For example, all too often companies writing press releases about new products and services they are launching fail to mention how they work or how they will benefit those who might be interested in buying them.

Jennigay-whitecliffs-5Jennigay Coetzer is a freelance business and technology journalist with 25 years experience, and she writes regularly for Business Day. Email her at jennigay@icon.co.za for more information about her upcoming writing skills workshops or connect with her on LinkedIn. An ebook version of her book A Perfect Press Release – or Not?, a guide to writing press releases, can be downloaded free from her website: www.jennigay.co.zatogether with plenty more writing tips.


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