I made the newspaper! Now what?

Tracy Mallette gives good content.

Month: September, 2012

Get your mind into the gutter: A must for content creators

By Tracy Mallette

When creating content, it’s not just spelling, grammar, facts and compelling, quality writing that you need to worry about. There’s a danger lurking on the page that keeps writers and editors up at night with visions of their careers flashing before them.

My cat Daisy is disgusted by obscene content.Namely, the word “public”.

If you’re in the writing, particularly newspaper, business, you know why this is a scary word.

If you’re not, this word is easily misspelled as “pubic”. Imagine the horror of parents reading about their “pubic schools”! What makes this word especially terrifying is that “pubic” is a word, so spell check won’t pick it up.

And it’s not just that word that worries editors, but the similar potential for other words and phrases to come together in a similarly obscene way. On top of spell checking, grammar fixing and fact checking, it’s also the copy editor’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen. (This is made more difficult by sneaky reporters who try to slip innuendo into their copy hoping editors will miss it. You know who you are!)

As a content creator, you need to prevent unintentionally obscene language, too.

Think dirty

There’s a saying in the news business: A dirty mind is a copy editor’s best friend.

If you don’t know what I mean, you probably haven’t seen this headline that I saw via Grammarly’s facebook page: A-Rod goes deep, Wang hurt.

Yikes!

If the person who wrote that only thought LONG and HARD … OK, moving on.

As hilarious as that headline is, you don’t want it to happen to you – or your company or client. You need to cultivate a dirty mind to create content that won’t offend, embarrass and/or get you fired.

Don’t worry, if you have trouble thinking filthy thoughts, there’s help for you. Play the game Dirty Minds, where participants are given obscene-sounding clues to guess an ordinary object. Heck those of us with a healthy dirty mind, should play it anyway because it’s a blast – and it’ll be harder for you to get past the dirty clues to guess a good, clean object!

If thought perversions are just beyond you, at least we all have a dirty-minded friend or co-worker to turn to. Ask this person to read your content before publishing to catch accidentally hilarious and/or offensive material.

Bottom line: Examine content long and hard before printing something that will have readers thinking about long, hard things.

Please share your own obscene-content mistakes and advice for preventing them. Thanks!

This post was inspired by my friend Kristyn Harvey LeBlanc, who shared Grammarly’s A-Rod headline with me, asking “Hey Ex-Journalist – Do these things really happen in the news world? Inquiring minds want to know.” They definitely do, Kristyn! And hopefully, with this post, it’ll happen less. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Naturally, I’m confused

By Tracy Mallette

I ran out of my favorite bars to eat every morning at work, so I swung into CVS for new ones. Well, they don’t carry my chewy peanut butter flavored Sunbelts so I settled for whatever chewy peanut butter bar I could find.

That happened to be this box of SnackWell’s:

SnackWell's box

OK, I’m checkin’ it out in my head: Hmm…SnackWell’s, eh, OK, whatever…Peanut Butter, yup, that’s what I want…Natural flavor with other natural flavor…ooo, 8g’s of protein! Wait, wha-wha-what!? Did I read that right? *rereads* (probably aloud to be sure) “Natural flavor with other natural flavor!”

Yes, that’s right. NATURAL FLAVOR WITH OTHER NATURAL FLAVOR.

Natural flavor with other natural flavor

Natural flavor on packaging is confusing enough! Now there’s other natural flavor to wonder about?

All I can think about is tasting a bite, and musing aloud in a British accent, “Mmm, yeees. I taste a natural flavor …” *rolls it around on pallet, head and eyes tilted upward* “with just a hint of … what is it, exactly?” *deep, thoughtful expression and finger on chin* “Oh, yes, of course … other natural flavor.”

This is ridiculous!

So, NATURALLY, I had to buy it 1. to try this abundance of natural flavor and 2. to share this marketing quandary with others.

The flavor’s eh to me. I prefer my Sunbelts so I’ll stick to ’em when I can.

The marketing, however, is outrageous! I’m hoping this was a mistake – like they accidentally printed the filler text, forgetting to enter in what it’s actually supposed to say.

If the language in this marketing content is intentional, I don’t know what they’re trying to say and I don’t think any of their customers do either.

If you know what this means, please share!

These are excellent ideas for creative inspiration.

Steve Farnsworth's Old Blog

Not all of these are really content creation ideas. Some are just smart activities to kick yourself in the seat of the pants, and open you to fresh ideas. They are all good and worth reading.

Content Marketing Case Study

However, the reason I wanted to share this is because it is actually a case study of great content marketing. Brian Clark at Copyblogger, one of the blogs I read and tweet regularly, and you should to, served up a big pile of his own dog food and lapped it up with a spoon. Yum. (Not really sure what that means, but just go with it, okay?)

Click to Tweet This Post ★ 22 Ways to Create Compelling Content and Case Study ★

Reimagining Old Content In New Ways

Almost a year before the infographic was created Brian had Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing as a guest blogger. Danny wrote

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