If Content Is King, Good Writing Is the Power Behind The Throne
PR 101 Lesson #131
I have left my blog dormant for a few years, but I am finally back in the saddle.
However, I am changing its emphasis a bit. I am going to concentrate more on freelance writing. That does not mean I will not be talking about marketing and public relations. Those two topics are strongly linked to writing.
The reason for the change is that I have come to realize that writing is the foundation of all marketing. The mantra that content is king is, of course, true. However, content by another name is writing. What creates Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing – writing.
Of course, the key to all of this is adhering to Google's rules. Let's face it Google controls the search market. According to Forbes Magazine, Google controls approximately 75 percent of the U.S. search market. Worldwide it controls just under 67 percent. You either play by their rules, or you are relegated to the minor leagues.
Plus, the business world is changing. More and more large companies are shedding their in-house marketing teams. At best, they will retain one or two people to act as gatekeepers. For a variety of reasons –primarily financial – companies are outsourcing most of their writing and marketing work.
Those who are left behind are overworked. The evidence is there. Look at the job ads today. Companies stack five or different role into a single job. They are often looking for content writer who knows Photoshop, web design, media relations and sometimes window washing. These are the people who arrive at the office before dawn, eat lunch at their desk, and go home well after the sun has set. There is no way one person can accomplish all those roles.
The smarter companies know they are asking a lot of their in-house people. So they want to lift some of the burden from their in-house staff. Often it is the writing part. The C-suite knows it needs content. So they go looking outside for those who can create it. This means they need people who can write it. Who better than an experienced freelancer.
To quote freelance writer extraordinaire Elna Cain: "Companies seek out freelance writers to provide click-worthy headlines, engaging introductions, and enticing calls-to-action. Moreover, usually, these businesses know the value (Cain’s emphasis) they are getting. This means more money for you.”
There is another market for we freelancers. Entrepreneurs are constantly starting companies. It is not just millennials who are making the jump to self-employment. Many people who are being downsized are starting companies.
These people have many things in common, but the most important thing when it comes to these would-be magnates – they cannot write. It is not their fault. The majority of them stopped doing any serious writing after they left middle school. Instead, they were learning accounting, business management, engineering, computer science and other business-type things. Once they were in the business world, most of their writing was probably reports and expensive accounts. As for millennials, they are majoring in entrepreneurship or a related topic.
Remember, more and more universities are de-empathizing the humanities. The includes writing a clear, concise sentence. I doubt that any of them even Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” exists, let alone having read cracked its cover.
That is where we freelancers enter the scene. We provide the script to make their effort successful.
I work with a number of venture capitalists. These are the people who fund start-ups, often to the tune of millions of dollars. They want everything possible done to ensure that the companies in which they have invested are successful. That is how a VC makes money.
They are very receptive to my pitch. I tell them: "it does not matter how great a product a company has created. If no one knows about it, it is not going to sell. If it does not sell, the company fails, and you have lost your investment."
They set me up with the companies in which they have invested. The great thing about this kind of client is they understand the need for what I do. Make no mistake; these are smart people. They know what they do not know. If they pump seven figures into a company, they expect it to succeed.
The list of services a freelancer can provide is almost endless. It can include press kits, web copy, search engine optimization and search engine marketing enabled pieces. There are also pamphlets, sales materials, sell sheets and much other stuff.
Often, I end up writing their business plan as a first step. The money people may not know how to write well. However, when a start-up company comes asking for funding they expect an easy-to-read plan that lays the path to success. Venture capitalists do not mind gambling, but they like to know they have a chance of a decent return on investment.
Once the business plan is written and accepted, the next step is a marketing plan. I do not get involved in the production, hiring, facilities; anything like that. Those are not my areas of expertise.
Frankly, I am never going to know a business as well as the founders. If they are committed entrepreneurs, they are going to eat, breath and live their enterprise 24/7. I am not going to that. My job is to help them sell their product or service.
Something I always tell my clients. It is a good rule for all of you to follow: I will bring potential customers into the lobby. I will provide reasons for them to enter the building. Ultimately, though, it is up to the company's personnel to sell the service or product. Always tell your clients that. You are not their sales force. That is a job for the company's employees. Never forget you are a contractor.
What I will do is prepare marketing collateral, train them for media interviews, find a good web designer, and write the web copy, create, and sometimes write, their blog. I will do anything else that falls under the general heading of marketing communications.