The festival of WordPress
January 22, 2021

This is an archive of the January 2021 event

What Journalism Can Teach You About Good Content

What do five wives and one husband have to do with good content? In this talk, I will explore how basic journalism training can have great lessons for writing in the digital world.

Speaker: Cinthya Anand

Time: 4:00pm UTC
Region: EMEA
Stage: BOH Stage

Hello, everyone. The only amazing talks taking place today, it’s very unlikely that this is going to be the best offer here, but I wanted to start with an example of how journalistic braking could look like. Today, I’m going to take you through some tips and tricks from the world of journalism that can help you create better content.

So let’s get started.

Step number one is write to create lead. Okay. So step number one is really write a great heading, but everyone talks about that and we don’t talk enough about the lead. So what exactly is a lead? Well, it’s the opening paragraph to story, and this is what draws the reader in and actually makes them decide if they want to go ahead with reading the rest of what you’ve written.

So news writing is different from how you write essays. And the main difference is that you have absolutely no time space. Face-to-face. So you don’t start with an introduction and a teary jump straight into the action. Okay.

A standard lead is very straightforward. It’s a brief sentence that tells you what the story is about. Who was there, what did she do? And very briefly, depending on space, when and where. The main thing to keep in mind is to say all the key points in as few words as possible. And that’s easier said than done.

But if you take the time to look at news articles in your new neighborhood newspaper, or maybe online, you can get a feel for how this is done. Here’s an example from the financial times, and you can see that here, the, the writer has decided to focus on the small businesses who are the main audience and what this court ruling can mean for them.

The other kind of lead, which is the one where you get to get a chance to let your writing job shine is the creative lead. So this is anything that’s sort of some relief, but it’s really an opportunity to paint a picture and draw the reader in. You tend to use these for soft stories and it’s. You’ve got a lot of leeway in how you play this and what sort of introduction you want to give.

One thing to remember though, is that because you aren’t really starting with, just to the story, the start you have to get to that sooner or later. So trying to get your nutgrass at least in, within the second or third paragraph.

Well, the creative leads on from the New York times and one from yours, truly, for some more examples, including what makes a bad lead check out this link on your screen. One last benefit of taking the time to write really properly is that in the digital world, you can reuse this over and over again. So for example, here you have headline and excerpt to go with it.

And that gives readers a bit more information than just putting a headline. And it also gives them some context so they can decide if they want to read the piece. And of course you can use the same lead on the newsletters and social media anywhere. My second point is talk to the experts. So I know we always try to think that you should write what, you know.

But as small as journalists who covered COVID will tell you very often, they’re asked to write about things that they have. No, they haven’t even heard about days ago. And this is something people in the content industry are familiar with too. So what do you do in that case? How do you make your writing some notes out?

Well, you find the experts, you find the data and you use that to give your writing strength and credibility. I’ve put together a few sources for information. We can vary by where you’re based on. But generally, most governments, websites have data portals where they upload surveys and they upload national census and so on.

So in the UK, there’s the office for national statistics. The. Amazon web services, open data portal as a good source as a  Google trends and open data Institute. So here’s just some figures from the ons and from Google trends and it’s, you can immediately please see and spot things that might make for good content, which is specific to your industry.

And when you are talking, when you, when you get a chance to talk to an expert, finally advice is to think like a journalist. Do your research before your meeting, ask open questions, ask questions. Like how would you explain this to a seven-year-old or is there anything else you think I should know that we haven’t discussed so far and trying not to put in too many questions on and on instead, you know, stop and give your.

Give you a guest sometime to speak freely because that’s when they actually loosen up. And that’s when you get the best coats. So talking to experts is a great way to build connections in the industry. And one example of this is my colleague, Jenny, who I met online obviously last year. So Jenny joined the London recruitment agency March, 2020, and she couldn’t go anywhere to actually meet people and find clients.

So what she did instead was to start an interview series on Cleantech disruptors, but she interviewed some of the most leading entrepreneurs and. Founders in the field. And within a year she knew she had built really valuable connections in the industry. So now there’d be no way to find information from let’s get into article structure, also known in motor pyramid.

It, the five wives and a husband you’re on a deadline and you have to quickly put together some web content to string a bunch of sentences together with these answering these six questions. What happened? Who was involved when to take place, better take place. Why and how? Okay.

The important thing about writing a new story is that it needs to be structured. Keeping in mind, one that space is quite limited to the audience. Time is quite limited. So what this means is all the most important information is always put at the top because just in case there isn’t space and the bottom of story needs to go.

The story see makes sense. And, and the key point here is that before you write your, before you write, instead of thinking that, okay, I have to write it in a chronological order, spend some time, can you look through your draft and find it? What’s the most news ability point? I always say that if you’ve been to a conference and you go home and you’re sitting with your wife and kids, husband, and kids, you will probably.

You’re not going to tell them, Oh, eight o’clock I reason I love this happened. What would, what would be the most interesting thing of the day that you share with them? That could be a lead for you? This is also great advice. When it comes to writing a press release, try your best right. Much pyramid style because journalists are really presented.

Do appreciate getting press releases that make the jobs easier.

So this is something said by Jacob unison back in 1996, when, and he’s web usability expert who has been involved in a lot of projects right in the beginning of the internet age. And it’s interesting that even then there were, it was recognized that you need in what perimeter ranking, because of the way people use the November.

Moving on to my next point.

Find your uncle. So when you’re fighting for space to fit in your story, there’s one question the editors always could ask. What’s the angle. Why is this important? Hasn’t this been covered before? And these are the questions you need to ask yourself.

I’d like you all to take a piece of paper and jot down a topic you want to write about or create content for. And ask yourself a few questions to, why does this matter now? How does it benefit the audience? Has it been done today? And if so, what can I add to the conversation? There’s something in the news, maybe a policy announcement or upcoming trend that I can connect this with.

I know these seem like obvious questions, but you need to be able to remove yourself from the topic and look at it in the way the audience would see it. Remember that people buy benefits, not features.

so I’m going to wait a little bit so that all, if you have the chance to try this out,

okay. I hope you’ve jotted on your questions. If not, it’s all right. We can always go back and take a look at these slides later on. Let’s go to our next. Next topic, which is page furniture. Okay. My first editor, Mr. Goodwin would always say that the heading strapline and caption need to work together so that somebody who’s just skimming a page over a cup of coffee quickly know what an article is about.

And then the online at these words have never been more important. The average prep process has like five browsers open at a time. I have 22. And every second, Rita’s making a decision, whether they should spend more time on your piece to make those first impressions count. But it’s the right use of page furniture.

Use eye-popping graphics and relisting code. So that even the most casual reader knows, or at least feels like it’s just got your normal digital gives you so many recent track with your audience and make it easier for them to find information. You can use buttons and widgets to make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for.

For example, say you have food blog. You can put a button right at the top that says jumped to the recipe. So that those among your audience who don’t have the time to read any takes before can go straight to recipe.

And speaking of long expositions, we come to 0.6, which is edit, edit, edit.

So my former editor. Always had this classic scene about editing, which was when in doubt cut it out, which was shorthand to say that for line and reporters copy didn’t feel right for feminine fact inserted with no research to back it up, it was submitted as duty to make sure that they go back to the report and get the corroboration.

And if there isn’t any, to make sure that sentence to make it to the printers as a blog writer, Or an editor or a content creator. You need to be as ruthless with your creation. If it doesn’t bias the credibility test, if you don’t have the data, leave it on the cutting floor. Obviously this doesn’t apply to opinion writing, but anything where you’re making a claim, make sure you have the facts to back it up.

And while we’re on the topic of editing. You need to take as much time editing and proofreading as you spend writing. Once you’re done with your work, just take a break, go get a cup of coffee and come back and look at it with fresh eyes. If you can find a colleague, look at it or even better, if you can get a professional editor, definitely do that.

I’ve included a few. Editing exercises here, which can help you to improve your editing skills, the quite basic, but I think they ha they have, they have some good examples and are good cases of how you can work on your editing skills. I. Then I’ve included a few guides here. One, I always go to grandma, go to clear my doubts.

You can also be old school and pick up strong and light. And if not, if you’re just pressed for time, there’s obvious Grammarly.

My next point and I’m problem is I’m nearing the end is London writing. So these are things most of us already know, but it’s just good as a reminder. The very first one is always use active voice. If you have sentenced that start there, I’m pretty sure there must be a way to rephrase it. Always use strong verbs.

You don’t need to say by the side, when you can be dejected and delete every extra word you have, the Hemingway app is a great tool to make your writing a little more bold, a little more clear. And it, it does things like it shows you how global is. This particular sentences can show you if you’re using an extra vote, that’s not needed chose a superfluous words like perhaps, and so on.

And as you were talking about using good words, instead of using bad adverbs, that objectives, my bad. This is a flaw. This is a feeling view, which shows you different emotions and a better word for the emotion you’re feeling

now to my ultimate. Very important point. Put the reader first.


What is it? Your audience wants to know my currency. You always says that my currency always tells us to put yourself in the reader’s shoes. And my Casey’s a Stata fondos, they’re running a company sitting in a tiny backroom office with two kids and a dog. They don’t have the time to make sense of what you’re trying to see is your job is to get to that point quickly.

Every post you publish has to pass of what’s in it for me test. Why does it matter to your audience? How can it help them help them

in journalism? There’s five things that makes news, timing, significance, proximity, prominence, and human interest. Find out what’s not news. What in your field and write about that.

Okay. There are, there are a lot of great tools like BuzzSumo onto the public onto us and Google trends, which in tell you very quickly, what are the key conversations happening in your sector? And the questions people are really asking. My last point for today is a very simple one, right? Like you speak.

So this doesn’t really have much to do with journalism, but it’s a great way to make your words flow effortlessly. And that’s to read every paragraph you’re written, not written aloud or else in your mind find the places where it sounds clunky and maybe you’ve got so many extra phrases in the finish it without losing breath.

You use techniques like the rule of thirds, anybody who remembers friends, Romans countrymen knows why that works. It’s a sticky, it sticks in your head. The important thing is that. You have this tendency to, you know, the mood you said, you asked to write a report, you put on a boat, die and DOP heart, and suddenly you use all the biggest words in your vocabulary, even though you don’t do that in real life.

And. When you actually see what you’ve written, you realize that, okay, this doesn’t sound like me. That’s not something I would have actually said in your life. And when you make it a habit to do this and you make it a habit to write the way you speak, you get to understand the natural rhythm that’s there in every language and you bring the real you 100% origin to the table.

Okay. Key takeaways. Okay.

Talk to the experts

is in what a permanent structure find your news angle. Make gentlemen.

Good writing and finding, right? Like you speak,

I’m going to leave you with my favorite piece on writing. Well,

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