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, productivity, storytelling, writing tips

How to be productive in this DISGUSTING heat wave

This summer has been a new level of mean. The teasing way it throws us a ‘cool change’ for five minutes before blasting us with a super powered wave of heat for four more days is just mean. Like many Australians, I have no air conditioning, and my goodness, it has been a struggle to will myself to concentrate. On the one hand, the excruciating heat sends me momentarily into states of mild hallucinations, giving me some hilarious and awesome ideas for my creative writing. On the other hand, I have a permanent and thick layer of revolting sweat pasted over my entire body, the motivation to sit down and be productive is at a scary low point. Procrastination has become a real and stunning art form.

I can’t possibly sit down at the computer – it’s letting off heat, I’ll pass out

Of course, this is the best time to attempt to make homemade ice cream for the first time, without the right equipment

This fan isn’t doing anything, perhaps if I fiddle with the settings for another fifteen minutes, the air will suddenly cool and relieve me from this fire

I’ll just have a quick shower to cool down

The list goes on and on.Don’t get me wrong, I procrastinate with the best of them even when I am not covered in a layer of sweaty grime. But this whole heat wave has really reminded me how much I need to trick my brain out of its wildly imaginative coma. And write!

Don’t get me wrong, I procrastinate with the best of them even when I am not covered in a layer of sweaty grime. But this whole heat wave has really reminded me how much I need to trick my brain out of its wildly imaginative coma. And write!

The key seems to be not too much at once

The prospect of hitting your 1000/2000/5000-word goal on a day like today can be wildly daunting. I mean sitting in one spot for that long in this blinding heat is a terrifying thought. Forget about your word count – give yourself a time limit.

I have found with my writing, as odd as it is to flip in and out of the imaginary world I have created, giving myself a time limit has led to more writing days than anything else. 30 minutes is nothing. Grabbing the laptop while the toddler is hurling his rice around the kitchen and knocking out a few paras has produced some of my better work. The reason? I think partly it’s because I am not overthinking things. I have my time limit, I have my distractions, but I also have my commitment.

Create little games for yourself

When you run a household that includes small humans the excuses for not making time for yourself come in waves. We forget that we are better parents, partners and human beings when we are healthy mentally and physically. That means committing to the stuff.

When I exercise, I like to trick myself into doing more with funny little mind games. When swimming laps, for example, I’ll count backwards and only half the time. Somehow, 80 laps become 20 in my head. Works every time. I know! When it comes to concentrating in this heat I find myself doing the same thing.

I’ll give myself limits to reach and then just before I reach them, like my own little PT I extend it, by just enough that my conscious self doesn’t realise. Odd yes, but oh so very productive.

Mix it up

Being stuck in one place for too long in this heat can just make things a little unbearable. Move around. Take the laptop to a café for a coffee, write in your living room or get out the old quill and parchment and write something down. It’s another little game I play. I think I am procrastinating, and yet at the end of the day, I have produced work.

Make your own homemade ice cream – seriously, it’s so tasty

I’m not even joking. This heat makes our minds turn to mush. Creating environments that force us to be creative can be just the jump start you need to get your inner engine working again. I’m not saying it must be ice cream, although with this weather it kills multiple birds.

Sometimes a little procrastination is all you need

I know, I know I am a proud card-carrying procrastinator. But I genuinely think it can be helpful sometimes. Rather than berate myself because I spent the morning creating tasty and refreshing treats instead of writing, I could embrace the refreshing break and use it to inspire myself back to the keyboard. Yes, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of inspiring tales on Reddit or bored panda, but you know what? Sometimes it’s that random Redditor that inspires you to find that hook you’ve been fighting to discover all week.

Writing prompts

Do it! It’s not cheating – it’s a bloody excellent tool. You can’t ride a bike without pedals and you can’t write quality without the right inspiration. That can come anywhere. Use prompts and use them often. You never know what could come from them. On that note, watch this space for some upcoming prompts and ideas that I have found fantastic.

They all say it but seriously, it works – write a little every day.

content marketing, freelancing, storytelling, writing tips

Training your brain – how I found more hours in the day

A friend and I have conducted a little experiment over the last few months. The results were pretty eye-opening. I wrote the first draft of a novel. Yep, an entire novel. She has found time in her days to focus on her creative writing in a way she hasn’t done for years.

It may not be new to all, but for two young mothers, of boisterous and energetic toddlers, we are pretty proud of ourselves. The cool thing is we have realised it doesn’t have to be confined to writing. I want to give you just a teaser of the program we mapped out for ourselves that changed our perspective, our time management and our motivation.

Lamenting the time away

It is so very easy to stubbornly declare that there is no time. How could I possibly fit that in when I have a child, a job, a relationship? Yet somehow we all still manage to keep abreast of our favourite TV show. Why? Because they exist in 30-40 minute increments.

We went through this exact process. Wildly jealous and awed by the friends we have writing books, composing symphonies and running businesses on the side, we were caught up in our own lives and the excuses we created every day. How do they do it? They must never sleep. They must never see their children. They mustn’t have jobs.

We couldn’t possibly fit anything else in we lamented.

And then it dawned on me

While engrossed in the latest episode of Once Upon a Time (yes, I genuinely enjoy it), my thoughts were racing. My protagonist has that trait. Ooh, my bad guy could have a similar back story. My plot would be different for these reasons. If only I had the time to explore them. Then my rambunctious two-year-old would bound into the room, ready for some drawing and train track building. Yet, I claimed to be a writer? A creative?

Naturally, I had to complain to my equally time-poor mummy writer pal about this. All the while, logging into the ultimate time vacuum that is the social media. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the socials. I think their value in business and communication as whole is extraordinary. In fact, I will be addressing some of those values in an upcoming blog. But it certainly takes up a LOT of time.

It was amidst these laments that it occurred to me. A realisation that many successful people before me have come to. I don’t really need more time.

One episode at a time

In a world designed to appease the desperate impatience we’ve come to embrace, binge-watching, 24-hour news and instant gratification have become the norm. No longer can we wait week on week for the latest episode of our favourite show. Somewhere along the way, we lost the excitement of anticipation. We lost delicious seduction of a teaser, in favour of an immediate climax.

We’ve come to need that satisfaction now and in full. If we can’t have it all right now, then we don’t want it. This hugely short-sighted attitude is what led me, my friend and many of you to the inaccurate conclusion that we just don’t have time.

As Australian network TV finally catches up and fast tracks a handful of key shows, I have learned, once again the value of patience. I don’t have to write a novel in a day. I don’t need to quit my job and wait for my son to go to school.

An attitude shift

My mummy friend and I realised, that all we needed was 30 minutes. 30 minutes and a little bit of accountability.

The result was unexpected. Naturally, I thought I might achieve a little more if I approached my projects in a different way. What I didn’t expect was such a profound shift in my approach to everything.

About a quarter way through our first experiment, we started to see things we’d never seen before. Time was no longer our master, but rather we channelled the powers of the Doctor and realised we were our own time lords.

I know it hurts but I promise it helps

In a bid to encourage you, dear reader, to change the way you see time and consumption, I am not going to give away everything at once. As much as I would love to minimise the competition, if you’ve got a book, a symphony, a creation of any kind inside, this may just help you pull it out. If you, like us, are impatiently claiming that it is time that steals your great creation, tune in for Part II.