Balance Your Video Content with Writing–and Awkward Group Dancing

VHS Tape--Video Marketing should be paired with old school writing, not old school technology.

Do you recognize that old school technology in the picture? Video sure has come a long way since VHS! Yesterday, I read a web article touting the importance of Internet-based video within content marketing. While video is certainly a powerful business tool, after reading the article, I had to wonder: Why is a discussion about the importance of video, not presented in video format?

I think the answer is quite simple—the written word is still more convenient than video in many situations.  I realize that some people will argue that video has the edge because you can multitask while watching  a clip on your laptop or mobile device.  And that is certainly true. However, I personally believe that videos are ultimately more time consuming because the average person can read approximately 250 to 300 words per minute,1,2 while most of us can only verbalize 150 words per minute3 –and obviously, you can’t listen faster than the video presenter is able to speak!

Video can also be cumbersome in certain environments where the audio may cause distraction or be difficult to listen to, such as shared offices or noisy commuter trains. Digging out headphones from the bottom of my purse while riding the Metra is a drag. (Not to mention the fact that wearing headphones in crowded spaces is a safety risk!)

So, when is video most effective? Video is excellent for tutorials and other how-to content because sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words, especially when you’re learning a new piece of software or installing a garbage disposal. Video is also a fantastic medium for sharing product demonstrations: Who doesn’t want to see that fancy widget in action before making a purchase?

In a perfect (communication) world, businesses would pair most of their videos with full-text transcripts or summary articles. This way, the audience has a choice to read or watch—and print, if need be. Also, transcripts and summary articles are a huge help for individuals with cognitive impairments who may have trouble keeping up with closed captioning.

Now, notice I suggested that businesses pair most of their videos with text—maybe you can skip the written summary of that clip featuring the entire office dancing “Gangnam Style.”

 

1. http://www.ncvs.org/ncvs/tutorials/voiceprod/tutorial/quality.html

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Words_per_minute

3. http://www.slate.com/articles/briefing/articles/2000/02/the_1000word_dash.html

 

Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in general business content, marketing, blogs, web copy, and instructional material.

Parking Lots, Minimalist Communication In Action

Parking Lots, Effective Minimalist Communication
Recently, my apartment complex closed off a large chunk of the parking lot for repaving. Since the residents here don’t have assigned parking, this created a mad scramble for the remaining spaces. In the midst of this drama, an interesting thing happened: People started making up their own parking rules. Unfortunately, those rules included parking haphazardly in the lawn. Needless to say, building management was not happy!

As the repaving project came to a close, I happened to notice the construction crew painting the new yellow parking lines. While I watched, I realized that those simple lines are a fantastic form of minimalist communication. Yes, just two simple lines tell us where to put the biggest, most expensive piece of machinery that most of us will ever own. Even more amazingly, most of us will abide by those lines even if there are no other cars around. But without them—there’s a good chance we will end up in the grass.

From a business standpoint, parking lots highlight the importance of minimalism. Sometimes we don’t need to say a lot, we just need to find the simplest way to elicit results.

 
Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in general business content, marketing, blogs, web copy, and instructional material.

Business Blog Communication Styles: From Three-Piece Suits to Jeans

Is your blog style jeans, or suits?Blogs originated as Internet-based diaries, but they have quickly evolved into podiums for business advancement. In fact, some blogging evangelists say that every business must blog. While I disagree with this blanket assertion, I do believe that blogging is beneficial for the majority of businesses because it is a low-cost, accessible way to connect with current and potential clients.

But after setting up their new blogs, many businesses struggle to find their voices. Should they be casual? Serious? Funny? Sarcastic? A little bit of everything? The answer is—I don’t know. What I do know is that your blog should be an authentic dialog with your audience.

If your business is very reserved in everything from dress codes to email formatting, then your blog posts should reflect this sense of formality. However, formality doesn’t have to be boring. You can still present your topics creatively, but you’re probably not going to want to use slang, share bathroom humor, or veer dramatically off-topic to discuss personal issues.

Now, if your business has more of a jeans and t-shirt style, shoot for a looser conversation with your blog readers, although bathroom humor is probably still a no-go.

The trick is to strive for consistency between your real-life business identity, your website identity, and your blog identity. If one of these three is radically different from the other two, your customers or clients will pick up on this disparity and may begin to doubt the sincerity of all of your messaging.

Here are a few suggestions to promote consistency:

  • Reread your old blog posts occasionally. Rereading older posts is a great way to maintain a uniform tone or identify ineffective writing that is straying from your goal.
  • Ask yourself, “Would I talk about this topic with my client over coffee?” If the answer is “no,” then you obviously want to reevaluate the value of the post.
  • Consider hiring a professional writer or editor to help you with your posts. Not only will this save you time, but a new set of eyes can identify areas of improvement and develop fresh ideas within the blog space that you have already created.

Most of all, authentic blogging should be (at least a little bit) fun—because you can’t fake fun!

 

Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in general business content, marketing, blogs, web copy, and instructional material.

Writing-Related Public Art: Dinosaurs, Dolphins, and a Sundial, Oh My!

Chicago is known for its fantastic public art such as the two bronze lions guarding the Art Institute, the Bean* delighting the masses in Millennium Park, and Buckingham Fountain showering Grant Park. However, Chicago also hosts an abundance of lesser-known pieces, which also serve to brighten our fair city despite the fact that they do not receive the fanfare of the great Picasso holding court in Daley Plaza.

So, in honor of Chicago’s unsung artwork, I thought I would share these pictures of the writing-related statues on the Roosevelt Road bridge between State Street and Clark Street. Each statue is approximately two feet tall and all three feature books. While I do not know the official meaning of the globes, the dinosaurs, the dolphins, or the sundial, I believe they represent the fact that big stuff (yes, “big stuff” is an official term) can be documented by—and emanate from—the written word.

Books,Globe, Dinosaurs Statue on Roosevelt Rd Bridge

Dinosaurs and (what appears to be) a Woolly Mammoth

Books, Globe, Dolphins Statue on Roosevelt Rd Bridge

Dolphins

Books and Sun Dial Statue on Roosevelt Rd Bridge

Sundial

But who knows, maybe the artist just likes dinosaurs, dolphins, and sundials. That’s cool, too.

*The Bean is officially titled CloudGate.

Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in small business content, marketing, blogs, web copy, and instructional material.