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A journalist's 12 tips to writing good content

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Good writing isn’t easy, nor should it be. The fact that every man and his dog thinks he can write these days only serves to make the role of writers more important – with a real need for people to write quality content that stands out from the mediocre morass.

However, even the best writers get writer’s block and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. In that spirit, here are 12 things I learned as a journalist that I’ve taken into marketing. Hopefully they can aid you in your quest to fine tune your writing.

  1. Read widely: The more you read, the better a writer you become. Look at your competitors – but also become a voracious reader of blogs, websites, newspapers, magazines and books. Good writers ‘magpie’ ideas from a variety of sources.
  2. Keep it simple: Journalists are encouraged to consider whether their parents or grandparents would understand their copy, stripping away unnecessary jargon and explaining terminology. Always consider if your audience would understand what you’ve written and use short, sharp sentences without too many clauses to avoid confusion.
  3. Be active: Think of the loose formula ‘subject, verb, object’. So, ‘Andrew wrote a rant for The Drum’ is probably better than ‘The rant came in an article written by Andrew’. Don’t be constrained by this rule but keep it in mind to write punchy content.
  4. Bullet point lists: Google loves a bullet point list – and so does your reader. Use them to make your content digestible.
  5. Use a thesaurus: Avoid using the same word more than once in a sentence. A thesaurus is your friend.
  6. Become self-reflective: Read back over posts you’ve written, preferably after a week or more has passed. Learn to critique your content and see what has and hasn’t worked.
  7. Write for pleasure: Writers who keep their love for their craft will give you that little bit extra. Write a blog about your personal passion in your free time and the process of writing will never become a chore.
  8. Listen to others: Good writers observe the world around them and channel their observations through the written word. Listening carefully to others will especially help if you write for an audience you aren’t part of.
  9. Don’t be too precious: People will disagree with you as a writer. They’ll often fuss about one or two words. You need a thick skin. Don’t be upset by the one word you were forced to change, be proud of the hundreds of others that are published.
  10. Challenge your brief: If you’re writing something and it feels wrong, it probably is. If you’re bored or confused by what you’re writing, then you can expect your reader to feel the same. Be prepared to question what’s in your brief.
  11. Write it how you’d say it: Are you stuck? Think about what you would say if you were to explain this verbally. Maybe write this out and then turn those words into something that’s more appropriate in a written form.
  12. Talk to other writers: A good team spirit and open dialogue between writers is important. Writers can help each other through difficulties by suggesting possible solutions or maybe offering links to articles they’ve read or written for inspiration.

This article first appeared as a chapter in volume two of The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Your Brand. You can download a free copy here.

Andrew Brookes is deputy content editor at digital marketing agency Zazzle Media.

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Kantar Media names Louise Ainsworth as EMEA CEO

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Kantar Media has announced that Louise Ainsworth has been appointed chief executive of EMEA, effective June 25.

Joining directly from her present role as chief executive of Kantar Millward Brown, Ainsworth brings a wealth of experience in digital media, audience measurement, brand management and communications in tow.

Andy Brown, global chief executive and chairman of Kantar Media said: "I am thrilled to welcome Louise to Kantar Media.

"Her rich experience in digital and the changing media ecosystem is widely recognised across the industry and will be a considerable asset for Kantar Media and our clients alike.”

Ainsworth added: "Our clients are facing more change and disruption than ever before – Kantar Media’s unique scale and breadth of high quality data sets are well-placed to help our EMEA clients convert the challenges they face into valuable opportunities.”

Upon arrival Ainsworth will sit on the Kantar Media executive committee, reporting directly to chief executive and chairman Andy Brown.

Ainsworth previously served as chief executive of WARC.

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Unilever taps WPP agencies to educate its startups as part of in-house collaboration

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Unilever has announced a partnership with WPP that will see the network's agencies work with the startups under the FMCG’s giant's Foundry programme in Singapore.

Unilever hopes the collaboration will lay the foundations for the marketing services ecosystem of the future and bring key external marketing expertise, in-house.

David Porter, Unilever’s vice-president of media for Asia, Africa and Russia said the partnership was an "in-sourcing" model, adding that the group was "looking at a number of was to bring external marketing services closer" to Unilever staff.

​The move from Unilever to work with WPP comes amid ongoing agency cuts in the FMCG space. Last year alone, Unilever was able to invest an additional €250m into media buying and in-store advertising after slashing the number of agencies it worked with and bringing certain elements of its marketing mix in-house.

The fresh collaboration will now see the likes of Ogilvy, Mindshare and Wunderman, work alongside startups, such like Celtra, Unruly and Viddsee at Unilever’s Level3 co-working space in Singapore.

It will be led by Sudipto Roy, managing director for media and data, and Team Unilever for Asia, Africa, Russia.

“We have taken a fresh approach to the ‘Team WPP’ design. Instead of designing around the brand or the category, we have designed around capabilities and intelligence in order to solve business problem,” explained Roy.

“We have access to cutting edge technology and new products across every pillar of the Unilever marketing framework through the startup community in Unilever Foundry. We look forward to collaborating with them to deliver breakthrough models, communications and consumer connections products.”

Unilever Foundry also unveiled a new advisory board for Level3 in April, naming the likes of Rajan Anandan, vice-president of Southeast Asia and India at Google, Daryl Arnold, chairman of Newton Circus, Maximillian Bittner, founder and advisor of Lazada as new board members.

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After #MeToo, C4’s £1m Diversity in Advertising award to focus on ‘portrayal of women’

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Channel 4’s ‘Diversity in Advertising’ competition has returned for the third year, this time asking advertisers to focus on how women are portrayed.

The initiative offers £1m of free airtime to any advertiser who best responds to a brief set by the broadcaster. In 2016 it was the representation of disability, won by Mars, and then non-visible disabilities which was won by Lloyds Bank in 2017.

In light of the #MeToo movement, the centenary of the right to vote and the focus on gender pay gaps, Channel 4 said it wanted ad creatives to create campaigns which would “challenge engrained stereotypes, objectification and sexualisation of women”.

A recent study found that there are twice as many male characters in adverts than female characters and that when women do appear, they are most likely to be younger (in their 20s, compared to men who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s).

“There are campaigns already on our screens which represent women in a positive and appropriate manner – but sadly there just aren’t enough of them,” said Channel 4’s head of agency and client sales and commercial marketing Matt Salmon.

“This year we’re looking for an ad that really stands out even from the positive ads we’ve seen before. We want a campaign that’s a beacon for the issue, an idea that calls out the challenges and makes a really positive statement to our audiences.

“The winning ad shouldn’t be representative of what the future ‘norm’ should be, it should act as a catalyst for the change in mindset we’d like to see within the industry.”

The deadline for this year’s entries is 9 July 2018. A shortlist will be announced on 17 July before the winner is announced in September and the campaign will be on air in early 2019.

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