Category: Edit

The article is dead. Long live the article!

The article is dead. Long live the article!

It has long been a refrain in content marketing — at least since the birth of the smartphone: Everyone’s attention span is toast. Nobody reads anything anymore.

Those of us trained in journalism to pledge fealty to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) tweaked that acronym for this age: Keep It Short, Stupid.

That led to bookend trends: the explosion of visual storytelling, and reports of the death of the article. And who could argue? People do many things at once, on many screens at once. It’s on us to flag them down and deliver the information they need, and to get our clients’ brand noticed and engaged with. That’s a big ask for a gray wall of text.

But it turns out the smartphone didn’t change everything about people and their needs. Many topics — say, health care, legal and financial services — present deep, complicated information gaps. And as I was reminded recently after user testing on our financial services content, people get this.

They know a flashy video or whirring pie chart may catch their eye, but it might not get the job done on subjects like sustainable investing or diabetes management. Sometimes, they need us to show them the article.

The modern digital article

So while reports of the format’s death have been greatly exaggerated, the rules haven’t changed. Readers, alas, will not hang on every word of every 1,000-word post. But nail the basics — understand our audiences’ challenges and give them information that truly helps — and they’ll stick with us. Here are five ways to do that and create the modern digital article.

  1. Clarity now. Generally assume that three-fourths of your readers will find your article on a mobile device. This puts a premium on every word. Heds and subheds must prize clear over clever. If readers need what you’re writing, they’ll scroll but you’re on a short leash.
  2. Graphics are your friend. Visual storytelling is here to stay. “Microcontent” — small, often animated or interactive graphics embedded in articles — helps guide a reader through an article. Or drop in a quick poll or short quiz. Visual tools like subheds, paragraph breaks and bullets all help your reader scroll on.
  3. Stay focused. Some highly-invested readers will churn through a white-paper-length piece but they’re indeed an endangered species. Slice story concepts thin. Help readers get in and out feeling they’ve learned something valuable. An all-inclusive piece on “estate planning”? Sounds like a slog. Try zeroing in on “Estate planning for parents of young children.”
  4. Create collections. Tighter story concepts are key to successful content packages. Plan bundles in which each piece delivers information you know the reader needs and creates opportunities for them to explore related content. If your health insurance client wants to help women prevent heart disease, create a package that includes compelling data visualization of the prevalence of heart disease in women and a listicle outlining warning signs. Grab attention at the top with an emotional 90-second video featuring three women describing their own heart challenges.
  5. And yes, keep them short, stupid. Or as short as you can. It’s true: word count has SEO implications — just not as much as you might think. A targeted keyword strategy, subheds that complement your strategy and outside referrals or links to your post all have much more impact than word count.

You can always test longer pieces. But if you write tight story concepts, use graphics, craft heds and ledes that scream value and ruthlessly slash excess words, you can say a lot in 600 to 700 words. Best of all, your audience just might read every one of them.

Buzzword Buzzkill: 10 Terms to Banish from Content Marketing

Buzzword Buzzkill: 10 Terms to Banish from Content Marketing

Words—every one of them—matter in content marketing as much as anywhere. At Imprint, we’ve long advocated for the need to keep communications clear, concise and jargon-free. After all, when it comes to business communications, buzzwords can be more of a buzzkill. They often cloud, not clarify, your message. 

How do you know when you’re allowing this type of language to escape into the wilds of communications intended for actual humans? There’s an easy way, according to Imprint Editorial Director Dan Davenport. 

“If we simply read aloud anything we’re preparing for real people and make sure that every word is something we would use to talk to a parent, a spouse, a neighbor—all our work will be clearer and more easily understood,” he says. “Which, after all, should always be the goal.”

So, “lean in” to this post. Actually, don’t. We don’t need you to “unpack” or “drill down” to get our message. Just focus for two minutes to find out 10 terms that make us cringe. And let us know the jargon you love to hate by pinging us at imprint@imprintcontent.com.

“New normal”

A key casualty of the pandemic. Like so many overused expressions before it, this one has been trotted out so excessively as to render it meaningless. — Dan Davenport, Editorial Director

“Deep dive/drill down”

Actual humans would say they’re going to take a closer look, give it a careful study or one of 100 other phrases. If you’re not going under water or looking for oil, don’t use these. — Dan Davenport, Editorial Director

“Snackable”

It’s the buzzword for short-form content that can be quickly read, viewed or listened to and/or shared—not eaten. It’s popped up in plenty of places, from industry blogs to client meetings. It’s more effective to talk about this type of content in context of the format or how we want to use it—for example, a 15-second video that will be used primarily on Instagram. — Kimberly Papa Amadeo, Editorial Director

“Ideate”

It’s one of those overused words that I would be happy not to hear again. It’s a fancy way of saying “brainstorm.” — Kimberly Papa Amadeo, Editorial Director

“Holistic”

Unless it is in the context of health and wellness, use “comprehensive” instead. Many word-use studies show that readers also hate the term “holistic.” It’s beyond me why marketers keep using it. — Meg Staknis, Managing Director

“Lean in”

Overexposure has drained this term of meaning. “Focus on” is more direct. — Meg Staknis, Managing Director

“Unpack”

We are continually being asked to stop and “unpack” concepts. Whether it be in business, politics or social news, it’s assumed concepts and ideas are so complex that we can’t comprehend them and need to have each element explained to us. I vote we “ideate” another term and “socialize” it until it’s “blessed.” — Andy Seibert, Managing Partner

“Incentivize”

I wish I were in the conference room when the word “incentivize” was created. I imagine there was someone from marketing, sales and finance, and no one from editorial. Next door was the group who came up with “strategize.” — Andy Seibert, Managing Partner

“Solve for”

It just means we need to find or provide an answer or solution—for example, “a function of a product that can solve for a potential buyer’s need.” — Duncan Milne, Managing Director

“Cascade”

“Please cascade this with internal stakeholders.” That’s just another way of saying make sure everyone who needs to know about this does. So, just say that. — Duncan Milne, Managing Director

3 Things We’re Focused On During The COVID-19 Crisis

3 Things We’re Focused On During The COVID-19 Crisis

Like most of you, the Imprint team has begun working remotely. Luckily, two weeks prior we did a “dry run” for a day to test our technology and communications with everyone working from home. This helped make our move to remote pretty seamless.

The other thing we did at the outset was clearly define our focus and make sure all our team members know our priorities. As the news swirls around us, having a shared sense of purpose gives us all some much-needed stability:

1. Family first. The health and safety of the Imprint team and our families is our most important priority. Plus, if we’re not healthy, we can’t fulfill our obligations to our clients.

2. Clients. We’re focused on being both proactive and protective. Imprint’s core strength isn’t creating content during a crisis—it’s strategic, ongoing communications. So as a valuable partner we’re busy creating journey maps, walking in the shoes of our clients’ customers. By understanding and anticipating what these customers need and want, we’re helping our clients think two steps ahead in creating the right content, in the right format, to protect the valuable relationships they’ve built with their customers.

3. Morale. In the time of confusion, when your work family is suddenly not around, it’s incredibly important to be there for each other. To keep spirits up and keep our team moving forward together, we’ve established a morning video huddle. Starting each day at 8:45 a.m. checking in, listening and sharing has helped everyone maintain a routine—which we know is crucial in times of dramatic change. We have a “know your role” policy, which helps for effective and efficient meetings. And now we’re encouraging “know your role, plus.” Bring a story, a joke, an insight into how you and your family are coping. It helps bring some fun and much-needed humanity to each encounter.

Find your points and be laser-focused on them. They’ll help your team, your clients and your business push through this challenge.

Stay safe, stay healthy – and stay home.

We’re here to help, and to listen. Please always feel free to reach out to me at aseibert@imprintcontent.com.

4 New Buzzwords Overheard at Content Marketing World

4 New Buzzwords Overheard at Content Marketing World

Have you ever been in a meeting or at a conference, and hear a term that just makes you laugh? Then it keeps coming up… and eventually becomes part of the vernacular. Here are four such terms we overheard at Content Marketing World in Cleveland:

  • Moving content. An attempt to replace “video” with watchable content that isn’t filmed. And, I assume, is not as expensive. The words aren’t inherently silly, but shouldn’t the name be more exotic?
  • Frictionless. Yup, trying to replace “liquid,” we get it. But content marketers are still using “liquid” – and so there is an inherent friction introducing a replacement so soon. (Pun intended.)
  • Strategize. This is actually a word, and Merriam-Webster agrees. But sometimes turning a noun to a verb can just be awkward.
  • Brandscaping. Uncomfortably close to manscaping–unless, of course, your brand needs to get rid of some extra or unwanted hair behind your brand’s ears.

What other buzzwords have you heard? Bring on the Slide-o-Meter, Infobullets, and Clustergraph—we’re ready!

4 Ways To Ruin Your Brand’s Podcast

4 Ways To Ruin Your Brand’s Podcast

In the piece on CMO.com below, Imprint’s Andy Seibert offers his take on how to avoid the most common problems with branded podcasts.

Podcasts are still-yes, still- having their moment. More than a third of Americans have listened to a podcast, and avid users consume six hours a day. With this sort of listenership and the ever-rising interest in new ways to connect with consumers, it’s no surprise that brands are publishing their own original audio content, too.

Read More at CMO.com

Imprint wins BIG at Content Marketing Awards

Imprint wins BIG at Content Marketing Awards

As an update to the original news about Imprint’s client work recognitons on July 23rd, Imprint was also named a finalist for “Agency of the Year,” one of the four top prizes at the 2015 Content Marketing Awards. Winners will be announced and celebrated at Content Marketing World, taking place on September 10th in Cleveland, Ohio.

Imprint’s work with Fidelity Investments and T. Rowe Price and Fidelity were recognized as either winner or finalist in the 2015 Content Marketing Awards. Specifically, the work for Fidelity’s Quarterly Market Update was named winner for “Best News Series or Program.” T. Rowe Price’s Investor Magazine took home two finalist mentions for “Best Integrated Program (Print/Digital Integration)” and “Best Feature Article – Print or Digital.” This year’s competition received 1,200 entries and were judged by an esteemed panel, including executives from IAB, NewsCred, Hubspot, and LinkedIn.  More details on the winners can be found here.

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