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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.

All copyrights for this article are reserved to The Drum

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China marketing specialist Hot Pot hires Cat Navarro as Chief Operating Officer

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Hot Pot, the full-service China marketing agency, has hired Cat Navarro, a business transformation specialist of more than 15 years, as its first-ever Chief Operating Officer.

For the past five years Hot Pot has been steadily growing its business, but with the massive acceleration of Western brands entering the Chinese market and the prediction that China will account for 60% of all e-commerce by 2020, it has put in place ambitious plans to scale-up and match that expansion.

Cat’s appointment reflects the company’s ambition. Her responsibilities will include the dual roles of implementing and overseeing transformation strategies, growth strategies, management structures, operational duties and workflows as well as acquisition, retention and training of talent.

Cat has spent 10 years leading high-profile change programmes for large organisations (SITA, AMP) and Australian government bodies (police force, housing). She then transferred those skills to scaling early-stage London-based businesses such as Quill Content, Ometria and The Sandpit.

Jonathan Smith, founder and CEO of Hot Pot, said: “We are excited to be entering the next phase of Hot Pot’s growth. To successfully scale the business, we knew we needed someone to have the requisite attention to the granular details but also be able to deliver on our overarching strategic goals.

“Cat’s depth and breadth of experience allows her to do this. She is exceptional at putting the right structures in place, operates at pace, and has an absolute passion for finding and developing the best talent.”

Cat Navarro added: “Hot Pot encourages brands to throw away the rule book and do things differently when it comes to marketing in China, and I’m excited to bring this bold philosophy to my role. When scaling a business that’s niche or disruptive, you can’t just rely on what you know or how others do things. Doing that just puts you on the same playing field as everyone else.

“I’m also thrilled to be leading both operations and talent, because the two are so intrinsically linked. It’s great to work alongside a CEO who invests in his staff as much as he does in the growth and profitability of the company and its clients.”

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10 questions with… Anna Watkins, UK managing director of Verizon Media

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In an attempt to showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, The Drum speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are put to Verizon Media's UK managing director Anna Watkins.

What was your first ever job?
It would have been washing my dad's car to earn my £1 pocket money each week. Smart man.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?
Relatable.

Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?
@POTUS is truly mind-boggling.

what is the highlight of your career (so far?)
Working with such a creative, inspiring and intelligent bunch of people every step of the way.

What piece of tech can you not live without?
It's baffling that I was born in London yet still seem to use Citymapper every day.

Who or what did you have posters of on your bedroom wall as a teenager?
Adam Ant and Count Dracula (aged 7). I'm not quite sure what that says about me.

In advertising, what needs to change soon?
We need a truly diverse workforce.

If you could change anything about a social media platform you use, which one and what would you choose to do?
It’s more a question of changing myself – I need to flex my creative muscles if I’m ever to make more than one friend on Tumblr…

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?
Scarface / Sign of the Times / War and Peace – delusions of grandeur, mine and theirs.

Which industry event can you not afford to miss each year and why?
The big awards bashes – it's like going to a series of weddings where you know half the guests.

The Drum's 10 Questions With… runs each week with previous entries available to view here.

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Mobile carriers end data sharing with location aggregators; should marketers worry?

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The collection and use of real-time mobile-location data has emerged as a critical piece of the larger data-privacy debate. A recent run of negative stories have conveyed the impression that location data usage by marketers is tantamount to spying on consumers.

We’re also starting to see lawsuits, like one recently filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney against the Weather Company, for allegedly misleading consumers about how their location data would be used. More suits will likely follow.

Carriers cut off data sharing. The negative coverage and exposure of some high-profile abuses have motivated major U.S. mobile carriers to cut off location data sharing with third party “location aggregators.” The latest to do so is AT&T, following a story by Motherboard that indicated carrier data was getting into the hands of unauthorized third parties — bounty hunters, in this case — and being used for legally dubious purposes.

As a practical matter, these moves are unlikely to significantly impact use of location data by advertisers on major platforms or in the programmatic ecosystem. AT&T owns AppNexus; Verizon owns Verizon Media Group (the rebranded Oath). Location data will probably still be available to advertisers on these platforms — they’re not “third parties.” (We’ve asked Verizon for clarification on this point and will update the story if they respond.)

Calls for more regulation or legislation. Location data are so valuable and widely available that abuses are inevitable. Some of these increasingly frequent reports are adding momentum to calls for federal data privacy legislation. The carriers’ decision to cut off location aggregators is at least partly an effort to preempt investigations and potentially forestall regulation.

Some location data companies embrace the proposition of clear regulatory or legislative guidelines, however.

For example, PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall recently told me in email: “I think that the California Consumer Privacy Act and hopefully a similar federal law (as a state-by-state patchwork of different laws would be good for no one) will not only give consumers protection and confidence, but will finally give the digital data and location data ecosystem a well-thought out set of rules and guidelines to adhere to. This will bring stability and predictability to the industry, and help weed out some of the “wild west” players that have had no interest in investing for the long term good of the ecosystem.”

Most location-data companies also say they adhere to ethical data-collection practices and are scrupulous about being “good actors” in the ecosystem. Some are vocal about the responsible and/or socially beneficial use of location technology. And some organizations (e.g., NAI) are seeking to enforce transparent and ethical data collection standards. Foursquare told me in email that their apps and partners seek opt-in consent for use of location data.

Why you should care. Location data is available from a wide range of sources in the market, including app developers and the programmatic bid stream. The loss of carrier location is not a significant blow to the ecosystem.

However it is reflective of a trend toward the tightening of access to location information more generally. While it remains to be seen whether federal privacy legislation passes in 2019 (multiple bills have been proposed), California’s Consumer Privacy Act will go into effect January 1, 2020. Other states may enact similar or more strict laws, which would lend further impetus to comprehensive federal legislation.

The post Mobile carriers end data sharing with location aggregators; should marketers worry? appeared first on Marketing Land.

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