What a difference a conversation makes

18th January 2012 | Posted in Content creation

Tough assignment yesterday. I needed to put together 350 words for an article for an inhouse magazine. Should have been straightforward. I’d been sent reams of background material after all.

But …  the slides, press releases, internal emails and even the briefing documents were just chock full of words I thought I knew but clearly had a different meaning in this context. The sentences were pretty hefty too. I’m no expert on medical research or even venture capital – and you needed both to begin to understand what this story was about. Ever feel it’s all getting away from you a bit?

Yet half an hour on a call with the expert and how the world changed. This most amenable interviewee was happy to let me ask the questions, and in return gave me a great plain-English explanation of what it was all about.

Actually it turned out to be really interesting story, so we had a fascinating conversation. That means I could write an article that would be interesting to a wide, non-technical audience too. The added bonus is that my interviewee talked in the American English that I needed to write the article.

The lesson for today is:

–          If you’re a journalist or copywriter, do your best to talk to the source yourself. Don’t be scared off by a difficult subject – it’s your job to explain so first you have to understand.

–          If you’re in marketing, PR or internal communications, don’t be afraid to put your writer in touch with your experts. You’ll get a much better result for it, and not all writers are embarrassing or try to steal your clients from you at the first opportunity.

(Of course, I haven’t had feedback yet. That might change everything.)

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