content marketing, content production, copywriting, digital copywriting, editing, research, storytelling, writing tips

Before you begin – top ten questions to ask yourself before you start creating content

We work with some of the most interesting professionals around Australia. Some are avid communicators, enthusiastic marketers and lovely storytellers. Some are clinical experts, with an awe-inspiring level of knowledge of their industry, who have no idea how to impart that knowledge. No matter who you are or what your piece of content is meant to achieve, we always, always, always implore you to prepare! Get to know your content before you create it. Below are the top ten questions we ask our clients at the beginning of every project. They’re a great way for you to get your head around your audience and your overall purpose – two things you need to create great content.

What is your service/product and what has changed?

We know you know who you are, but forcing yourself to put it into words will help guide you to be clear on your overall purpose.

How does this piece of content fit into your overall story?

Do you have a content strategy? Is this content to stand alone? Where and when will you publish or share this content? This can help to identify where you may have strategic gaps and inspire you to bed things down.

What is your purpose? Inform? Compel? Change views?

Know and understand from the outset what you want from your content. If it’s just to inform, why have you chosen the platform you have. If it’s to compel action, what is that action and how will the platform you’ve chosen help this along?

Who is your audience/potential audience?

Get to know your audience as well as you can. Who are they? What drives them? How will your content add value to them?

Does your audience have an intimate understanding of who you are and your offering?

For those in a business or technical environment, this question is key. How much does your audience know about your offering? What is their technical knowledge and capability? Knowing this will help you pitch your language at the right level.

What does your audience currently think of your business and what do you want them to think?

Knowing where your audience stands and comparing it to where you want them to stand is a great way to give your purpose context.

What are three things you want your audience to take away? Call to action

Summarising your content down to three points will help you define and refine your purpose and get clarity on your call to action.

What is the tone of your content? Friendly? Casual? Technical? Formal?

Does your brand have a style guide? If not, do you know the kind of tone you want? It’s important to find that tone before you begin because it will inform how you communicate your message.

If you could describe your offering in three words what would they be?

This is another great way to help you refine your message.

What has been successful/a disaster in the past and how does this content reflect that?

It’s incredibly valuable to understand your past successes and failures in communication. What content has resonated with your audience and why? How are you adapting your current content to continue this relationship?

Answering these questions can help give your content structure, shape and purpose. When you combine this with great storytelling, you can develop compelling content.

 

content marketing, copywriting, storytelling, writing tips

The art of storytelling – what Joss Whedon teaches us about content creation

Weaving the right texture into a story can be one of the biggest challenges when creating great content. When you get it wrong, your credibility can fall flat and your audience will split faster than a freshly fertilised egg. The fact is, we learn, engage and connect through story – just ask the scientists. As storytellers by trade, our team here at Make it Peachy are inspired and influenced by some pretty spectacular storytellers. It’s their skill, style and approach that help us create content of the vast range of industries we do. Over the coming months, we plan to pick some of our favourite storytellers and explore just how they can make us all better content producers.

In honour of the 20-year anniversary of one of our favourite TV action dramedies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we have chosen Marvel’s current golden child, Joss Whedon.

 “The main function of the human brain, the primary instinct, is storytelling. Memory is storytelling. If we all remembered everything, we would be Rain Man, and would not be socially active at all. We learn to forget and to distort, but we [also] learn to tell a story about ourselves.”

Arguably one of the most progressive and dynamic storytellers of our time, Joss Whedon has thrilled, amused and enlightened us for more than two decades. The reason? He’s a damned fine storyteller. He has a knack for turning the spectacular into the relatable and vice versa. We’ve identified the TOP FIVE ways Whedon achieves impact.

Have something to say

“I still want to connect with people … The only thing I do know is that if I approach a story with that as my goal, I will not come up with a story. I will come up with a retread, I will come up with a commercial for storytelling.”

We often spend too much time searching for a way to connect with our audience. Don’t get us wrong, that relationship and connection is a key part of storytelling. What Whedon reminds us, though, is the importance of knowing what you want to say before the audience even comes into it. What are you compelled to write about? What is the purpose of your content? When you understand this, you give your story a trajectory that both you and your audience can follow.

Planning and structure are crucial

“I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes? The thrills? The romance? Who knows what, and when?”

When you look at storylines such as Buffy or the Avengers, you’ll notice how clear and simple their structure is. Because the structure is so clear, it leaves us as audience members room to engage emotionally with the deeper plot lines and subplots. As content marketers, storytellers or communicators, when the structure is clear, we have the freedom to explore more sophisticated techniques.

Understand your audience and deliver what they need

“Don’t give people what they want, give them what they need.” 

The key to engaging your audience, according to Whedon is the notion that creating the story we think that people want to hear will always end in disaster. Don’t speculate about what your audience wants from your content. Understand your audience to the point that you can design and deliver what they need.

Do the unexpected!

One of the coolest things about Whedon’s writing is his ability to catch us off guard. Don’t take the popular path just because you think you’re going to connect. Buzzwords can serve a purpose absolutely. But, find a new way to connect. Disrupt the status quo. Shock, excite and engage your audience.

Use humour where appropriate

“Humour keeps us alive. Humour and food. Don’t forget food. You can go a week without laughing.” 

Fans of his work certainly appreciate the humour that Whedon tosses into all his projects. Interestingly, his use of humour is a device to disrupt or make us think. It is just as pointless creating a piece of content full of purposeless jokes as it is to create content with no value at all. Embrace humour, and if you’ve stumbled across the ultimate one-liner that will nail your intro, then, by all means, throw it in. Just don’t use it as a crutch.

We could write a hundred more tips that we’ve learned from this master and will continue to learn. The fact is inspiring storytellers are the greatest teachers. Read about them, follow their advice and you’ll become a better storyteller by default.

 

content marketing, copywriting, digital copywriting, editing, freelancing, invoicing, research, sub-editing

Re-introducing – Make it Peachy

The last couple of months has been both exciting and mildly terrifying. Where once upon a time, it was just little old me, Peach, out in the desolate land of freelancing, fending for myself, I’ve made some pretty significant changes. My exquisitely talented husband Jeremy (who hails from years banging the business development drum) has come on board to help me turn Make it Peachy into a business we can be even more proud of.

Country copywriters with the city smarts

After years happily ensconced in the hamster wheel of city life, we have made the bold choice to step away. Not from the service, expertise or clients – our city based clients are some of our most loyal and down to earth. Rather away from the sea of inauthentic pretension that sometimes seeps in.

We have moved ourselves and our little business headquarters to the country. Reflecting the relaxed, beautiful and grounded atmosphere down here, we want our clients and future clients that we are the real deal. We want to get to know you and your brand and we want you to feel comfortable and confident in our relationship.

Just don’t mistake our authentic approach as out of touch or soft. We have the skill, the know-how and the spunk to manage the big guns just as smoothly as we manage the smaller local businesses.

Small team with huge capability

I have worked with some extraordinary people in my many years of communication. I have faced the self-righteous bullies head on and had the pleasure of building incredible relationships across a range of industries. When I decided to grow, I decided there was one thing I would not compromise on. People.

The small team I have built around me is dedicated, talented and ready to take on anything and everything. They are respectful, efficient and entirely reliable. On top of that, you can always have confidence that if my team says they can do something, rest assured it will be done.

We work with clients who are looking for a like-minded approach. If you’re looking for respect, transparency, talent and efficiency – Make it Peachy is on hand to deliver.

Our focus is service – local or remote

I want to make it clear – for me Make it Peachy is all about service. We want to help you communicate your brand, purpose and message with clarity and authority. Understanding who you are and delivering as best we can is how we operate.

Whether you are a local business, looking to expand your presence, or you’re based in a major city a thousand kms away, our team of experts will be there to take you to the next level.

Our boots fit just fine

Because I’ve had the privilege of working in such a variety of industries, I’ve been lucky enough to learn and grow from every experience. I’ve seen arrogance and over-confidence ruin business. I’ve seen a lack of conviction do the same thing.

It’s why I continue to work incredibly hard to hone my craft, build the skills of my team and show a united and confident front at all times.

Join us now and reap the rewards

I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve built so far and am more than excited about what is to come. We’ve got some exceptional ideas, some remarkable talent and a commitment to build ongoing, local and remote relationships.

Why not give us a call, or email now and find out how we can help you, Make it Peachy!

content marketing, content production, copywriting, digital copywriting, ethics, research, writing tips

Newsworthiness versus total tone deafness – how to find the balance

In light of the recent rather tone deaf disastrous blunder, we thought it pertinent to talk about how to get your tone right with your content and content marketing. Seriously, how does a major successful and often entertaining brand get it so wrong? And if they’re getting it wrong, what hope do the rest of us have? Haven’t the experts been telling you all along that relevance and timeliness are fundamental to great content? We certainly have.

The fact is people get it wrong every day. And when they get it wrong, the social media storm descends without hesitation, ready to annihilate every wrong step in its path. It kind of makes you want to curl up and hide – don’t risk it you say. Don’t be crippled by that fear. Creating your own content and offering comprehensive and creative and relevant content solutions to your stakeholders is exactly what will set you apart.

Find your place in the current political or social climate is absolutely crucial for illustrating your value. Profiteering from that climate is stepping into dangerous territory. The key is balance.

Tapping into the local climate versus manipulating it

The world today is under a lot of upheaval. We’re all trying to forge a path amongst the uncertainty and to be fair to Pepsi, they were misguidedly attempting to tap into our burning need for unity right now. The fact is, connecting your message to the wider news and events is a clever tool to show you have both your finger on the pulse and your content is valuable and timely.

What often happens is that instead of embracing the news of the day and finding a place in it, many brands make the mistake of appropriating social, cultural and political catastrophes and inserting themselves where they were never welcome. Thus begins the onslaught of abuse and distrust. With the added bonus of today’s connectivity, your credibility, brand and reputation can be destroyed in mere hours after publication.

Finding an authentic connection

Keyboard warriors the world over are waiting unapologetically to pounce the minute they find a reason. And yes, some of these warriors are nasty trolls that deserve nothing more than a shake of the head and a turn of the cheek. Some of them, however, a genuinely and passionately fighting for what is right, just and authentic behaviour. They are waiting on the other side of that line to make damn sure you know when you’ve stepped over it.

So why test them? Keep your content relevant and respectful. As with any and all communication, the fundamental rule of useful and relevant content is knowing your audience. How will a story about International Women’s Day connect with both your brand and your audience? Are you making reference to a religious holiday? How is it consistent with your news? Is your reference considerate?

By all means, embrace the news of the day. It’s how we connect ourselves to others. But, understand the social ramifications of what you are doing.

You can still push boundaries without isolating people

So what, we just can’t be controversial or push boundaries? Isn’t boundary pushing the cornerstone of comedy and great storytelling? If we are hamstrung by the politically correct are we not just limiting the conversation? Are we not closing the debate?

Not at all! Don’t fall under the misplaced assumption that innovation and creativity have to be offensive. The fact is pushing boundaries is the bedrock of development and progress. Don’t ever lose sight of that, because when you do you lose your audience as quickly as if you’d offended them.

Step out on a limb by all means. The only way you can reach the perfect balance is by knowing where the line is, so embrace boundary pushing in the creative stage. With it you must also embrace self-regulation, conscientious creativity and social sensitivity and awareness.

That tightrope is thin and scary but with your purpose clear and your creatives both socially aware and contemporary you’ll navigate that balance.

Know your core values and stick to them

Another key to ensuring you keep your content on the right side of the line is to ensure that your content always aligns with your core values. If your values illustrate social justice, ethics and unity, then so too should every piece of content you or anyone associated with your brand produce. Of course, you’re going to make mistakes, and if you are being innovative, sometimes you will step over that line. Just remember, if and when you do, your response to that mistake is almost as important.

Find creative experts who will embrace your values

Surround yourself with like-minded souls. Your creative team should fully understand your values and help create content that is in line with those. If you are engaging experts, understand who they are, and ensure their values align with yours. You want to be able to trust your content producers implicitly with your brand. You want to know that they will build your reputation, credibility and brand in a positive and productive light. Choose content producers who value an ethical approach.

Be creative. Be innovative. Be funny. Be fabulous. BUT, be real. Be authentic. Be conscientious. Be kind!

Create by building others up.

copywriting, editing, proofreading, research, typos, writing tips

Research my old friend – the key to credibility

Well, that was embarrassing! By no means the most embarrassing thing to come out of the White House in recent weeks, but for us lowly Aussies, it’s a pretty blatant slap in the face. It just shows how a simple mistake, like not knowing someone’s name can wreak havoc with your credibility (although having said that I suppose that would have to assume Mr Spicer had some to begin with, which is up for debate). As a writer, it just reminds me how critical it is to have exemplary research skills.

What’s in a name?

While we all may take issue with some of the decisions our Prime Minister has made (or not made for that matter), Spicer referring to Malcolm Turnbull as ‘Prime Minister Trumbull’ has put a bad taste in our mouths. Is it that he deliberately got it wrong and is trying to make a statement that we don’t matter? Or is he so grossly incompetent that he can’t check his facts before addressing the media? Either way, it doesn’t sit well.

As a writer, I am always thrown new and bizarre topics and ideas. I am tasked with creating something engaging in any number of industries and fields and write it in the name of the experts. If I muck up the facts, not only I lose face, but so do my clients. What’s in a name? Your credibility that’s what.

Finding credible sources

Don’t get tarred with the unpleasant brush of ‘alternative facts’. Much like we all need to start investing in the validity of the news put in front of us, when you are producing content, make absolutely certain you know where your facts came from.

Don’t take my word for it. I cannot emphasise enough, the need to find credible sources. A little reminder, Wikipedia might give you your quick facts to get you started, but you know anyone can edit their pages, right? Whether you are writing news articles for major publications or editing a bit of content for someone’s website, if you use someone else’s content, please check it first.

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Check your facts

Not only do you need to ensure that your sources are credible but more important than that – have you checked your facts? Have you checked your names? Your dates? You may have gone out of your way to find credible sources, interviewed fantastic people and profiled some fascinating event or product. But if you’ve mucked up the nitty gritty, the whole content piece is totally worthless! I’m not even exaggerating. It’s one thing to have the odd typo (even us experienced writers must admit that every now and then something slips by), it’s another thing entirely to call the Prime Minister of a country by the wrong name.

Research can be fun – really it can!

You know the thing I love most about what I do? That I get to step into someone else’s world for a day. For the time it takes me to produce that content, I get to become an expert. And for that time, I do. The cool thing is that other people’s worlds can be amazing, especially when you get to step back into your own at the end of the day.

To make something interesting to your readers, you’ve got to be interested yourself. The best way? Get in and learn. Before I worked for a metal finishing company, I had no idea how cool metallurgy can be. I mean, seriously, check this video out. Science is cool!

Don’t proof your own work

Whatever you do, whatever you write, wherever you plan to publish, don’t proof your own work. Yes, of course, you can ensure you minimise mistakes and check and recheck everything you write. Please remember, you are invested in what you create and sometimes you will miss things. Sometimes significant things. Don’t embarrass yourself the way that a media professional never should. Ask for help.

There are so many things I want to say about research. I am a research fiend. I actually enjoy finding new and interesting ‘actual facts’.

You know what? The last few months have been pretty confronting for a lot of people. There is so much about recent events that if I am honest, I am not even sure how to react. But you know what? I can say this! Do your F$#@ING research!

content marketing, content production, copywriting, digital copywriting, storytelling, writing tips

Create better content with these top tips

Create Great Content
Create Great Content

Australia has thrown itself into the pit of confusion with its latest election. The AEC are slowly determining who’s going to take charge of this fine country, while we all sit helplessly, twiddling our thumbs. Many Australians are disenfranchised, uninspired and unsure where to look to for great leadership. Don’t let your brand fall the way of our major parties. Understand your brand and communicate it with clarity and leadership. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better writer and communicator overall.

Know your message

We can all get caught up in what everyone else is saying and confuse our own message as a result. Much like some of the campaigns rolling around our screens and radios, marketers are seduced by the idea of pulling others down in order to big themselves up. This just pulls everyone into the gutter. It doesn’t matter what the other guy is doing. What do you have to offer? How is it unique or valuable? What do you want your clients, audience or readers to know about you? Answer these questions and you are off to a much stronger start.

Know your style

If your organisation has a communications and/or marketing team, you will likely already have a style guide. If you do not, I urge you to work with your team to create one. A style guide will inform your tone, your approach and your word choices. It can help even the most nervous of writers find the right path. If you don’t have a team to help design a style guide, I recommend you consider working with a consultant, such as Make it Peachy to design one for you.

Design a strategy ahead of time

As we know, there are so many different channels you can communicate through these days and it can be incredibly overwhelming. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the newest trends that you miss the chance to promote your service and product in the most effective way. Understand how the different platforms work, and design a communications strategy that is easy to follow. The Hub created a fantastic infographic outlining 25 great content marketing platforms for your brand. Don’t waste your time throwing your content in every direction, hoping for something to stick. Identify the platforms that best reach your audience and create a content adhesive that sticks every time.

Do your research

What is engaging your industry right now? What are they talking about? What are they debating? Do your research and understand where your industry stands. Where do your audience and clients stand? What are they interested in? How can you show that you offer this? If there is something newsworthy you want to comment on, make absolutely certain you have done your research. Making the time to do your research will keep you abreast of any developments in your industry and help you illustrate your knowledge to your clients.

Strip away the industry jargon

Whether you are designing a presentation, writing an email or creating original marketing content, remember to get rid of that jargon. I wrote a stand-alone blog on stripping away your jargon. As you know, you are the expert in your field, no one else is. The best way to engage people is to make your content as easy to consume as possible. Get rid of your technical lingo and shorten those sentences. Using jargon only serves to alienate people. You can show your expertise with far greater ease when you can explain your point using Plain English.

Don’t forget about your copy

Images and videos are fantastic ways to engage and seduce your readers. People love great videos, emotive pictures, and informative infographics. Make sure you use them where you can. They are a great way to grab your audience. In fact, while researching for this blog, I came across this amusing little video of a professor’s explanation of marketing.

However, ensure you back that up with some quality copy. Your choice of words explains your message and demonstrates your knowledge. Don’t flood your content with images and videos if you can’t back them up with engaging copy.

Educate yourself and your team

You may be the expert. You may have an extraordinary team and some socially progressive, financially sensible policies. The trouble is, if you don’t know how to get that across, you could end up with a hung parliament, or worse, not enough of the market share to actually affect change. If you don’t have the writing or presentation skills you need, don’t wing it – learn. There are thousands of courses around the country that offer up to date advice, tips and tools for you to become a better communicator. If you are looking for writing training, Make it Peachy offers a range  of courses and I can even design a personalised course for your team.

If in doubt, ask for help

If you aren’t confident that you can create engaging content, don’t do it. Talk to your communications and/or marketing team. If you don’t have one, engage a consultant. The only thing worse than not creating any content is creating terrible content. Don’t assume your clients will know you’re passionate and inspiring. Show them that you are.