COM0014- Blog 2: Is your story getting lost?

Have you ever wondered why yoshare your story pixabayur story isn’t getting much attention? Why it is not gaining popularity, then perhaps you are doing something not right!

In this competitive world of digital age, it is easy for your story to get lost in clutter. Storytelling is an art and if done corrective, it can be very effective in gaining interest and popularity.

Canva - Apple Magic Mouse on Brown TableThis week’s lesson was a bit of an eye opener. The main point from this week’s reading was philosophy of inverted triangle i.e. putting important information first so that you can grab reader’s attention as quickly as possible vs. potentially losing them.  It is best to layout your story before writing in the most clear and concise way by ensuring that the story has clear beginning, middle and end. It is always a great idea to consider what kind of experience you want your audience to have.

While writing your content, the part that we all are aware and seldom forget or overlookCanva - Red Pen on English Grammar Text is grammar, spelling and punctuation. When we get into mode of writing, we forget these elements which from a reader’s perspective looks unprofessional. It is always a good idea to get your story proofread by someone else as I believe fresh pair of eyes are always better to catch errors.

Use of active vs. passive voice is also an integral part of telling your story. Using a passive voice is one of the most common mistakes in writing. The story only gets lots of attention and interest when you can ask questions to your readers and when they can relate to the story.

To summarize, take away from this week’s reading is to begin writing with the end in the mind with deciding what kind of experience you want your audience to have and how to engage with them.

(Source of photos: http://www.canva.com)

COM0014 Blog #7: Let Your Audience Guide You!

I’ve learned a lot in this course about story-telling; in fact everything from the Inverted Triangle Approach to researching target audiences has taught me something about writing online. But the most interesting lesson has been discovering that story-telling does have a place when creating good digital content; if used effectively and concisely.

To do this means not starting from the beginning and working to the end leaving the most important message for last, expecting your audience to hold their interest up to that point but taking into consideration that they will have limit attention spans so say what you want first and foremost weaving your message into a story-telling approach.

You may be asking “Why” this is important?

Well with everything you must consider your target audience. In fact taking them into consideration first can help you as the writer determine the best way to tell your story so that it is well received. After all, these are the people we write for and so in order to capture their interest it makes perfect sense to appeal to them.

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Twitter screenshot, where I’m working to tuning into what’s being said and find what’s most relevant!

Learning this it has helped me evaluate my own writing and zero in on my own approach to blogging. I’ve started thinking about what I really want them to know and how best to communicate that so the message reaches them clearly. Through using social media I am also listening in to help me select blog topics more carefully. Considering not just what interests me but tuning into what my audience is talking about and getting ideas from there has helped guide my writing and given me some good insight into what’s most relevant and therefore could be most helpful to them.

Which overall this course has made me a better blogger and careful listener.

 

COM0014-Blog #2: Coming to Terms with The Inverted Triangle Approach

It makes sense that The Inverted Triangle Approach is the best way to organize and write your content, act as a method to ensure that future readers can easily find what they are looking for online and us as creators don’t ramble on halfway through forgetting what we wanted to say messing up the intended message. It also makes a lot of sense in the online world where every content creator is in a rush to get their latest post or video out in order to keep up with everyone else and sometimes where content quality is over-ruled by the quantity put out there.

As a blogger I have experienced this myself and am aware that there will always be that pressure to generate content or alternatively keeping up with others shortened attentions spans. As a writer I believe that writing clearly and concisely is equally important because even with the fanciest vernacular and messages we believe to be clear and concise for us; they can easily get lost, misunderstood, or forgotten amongst the content’s clutter. Which that isn’t the point of writing in the first place. To me, the point is in sharing our experiences, messages, connecting with others, communicating ideas clearly and sharing them so that others can understand or learn from what we write. With that being said, maybe The Inverted Triangle Approach isn’t so bad after all. In fact, it’s a pretty neat way to be mindful  of how we write and not that far off from my own version of it which is: Keep It Simple Kylie.

-Kylie

COM0014 – Blog #2 – Writing a Digital Story

It is difficult to change the way I write when I have spent so much time training and learning to write prose as I presently do. When you’re telling a conventional story, you want to give the reader just enough information to keep them interested but not enough to give the hook – or big twist – away. However, writing for social media and digital communications is a different formula; you want to lead with that key piece of information because that is what interests the reader from the get go. You then want to introduce the points you will touch on in the article.

An additional point which I understand completely but also find baffling is knowing the end game before you even start writing your first sentence. Out of everything I have written, my favourite piece to date by far is the one I wrote with little planning, the character and her story evolved that year as I did and because of that became my most important story. I wrote stories, first outlining key elements and then starting, but I found the experience less exhilarating as a creative person.

The constant here of course is grammar, spelling and punctuation. The moment any piece of writing other than that of a second grader’s is riddled with mistakes it is looked at as unprofessional.

What styles of writing do you use when writing? Is your writing conventional, unconventional or somewhere in between?

COM0015, Assignment 5: Writing and Editing for the Web

I am a 25-year publishing professional—writing, editing, photographing, desktop publishing and managing newspapers, magazines and journals. The majority of my work has been in print and I have personally experienced the decline in this industry. To help me transition into online and social media platforms, I am taking various courses and seminars.

One such seminar was Writing and Editing for the Web through the Ottawa-Gatineau Branch of Editors Canada I read printed material differently than I read web pages and I don’t think I’m alone. I wanted to learn the difference so I could better use online platforms to meet my readers’ wants and needs.

Moira White of Ubiquitext and past president of Editors Canada presented the full-day seminar on Nov. 24. I was particularly interested in learning techniques that draw readers to web pages and creating engaging content to keep them there longer.

For Moira, the answer to my question of how people read online today is simple: They don’t! (How’s that for a quotable quote? lol) Most people skim for information.

As a November 2013 report showed (a reference was not provided), more people get information on their mobile devices than their laptop and desktop computers. Mobile devices have narrower columns of text, giving the illusion of longer, more intimidating paragraphs. I need to remember to provide bite-sized chunks of information in smaller paragraphs because of that one fact.

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During the Writing and Editing for the Web seminar for Editors Canada, Moira White explains how writers encode and readers decode information. Depending on the medium writers choose to share their messages, readers can provide feedback, creating a loop.

As well, people retain less information when reading online, which makes organizing information into small chunks and providing plenty of headings even more important.

Moira suggests writing for the web should answer only three questions in this order:

  1. What?
  2. So what?
  3. Now what?

This gets the take-home message out quickly and succinctly, then provides context before making a call to action.

She also suggests starting each paragraph with a topic sentence (remember those from grade school?) For those who don’t remember, the first sentence of each paragraph introduces what the rest of the paragraph will be about. If readers want more information, they will read it. If not, they go to the next paragraph.

Networking While Learning

Sitting at the table with me were Jean Forrest from the Public Health Agency of Canada and Nikki Burke from Statistics Canada. Most of our discussion was about change: in our work environments, in language and in technology. Although neither uses social media, I shared that I am taking Algonquin College’s Social Media certificate program in hopes to expanding beyond print. Because the program doesn’t cover the basics about how to use each social media platform, I’m reading Social Media for Writers: Marking Strategies for Building Your Audience and Selling Books (Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine, 2015). I pulled the book out of my purse as I was reading it on the bus, and they each wrote down the name.

I also talked with Tricia Diduch from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and Josephine Versace from the Government of Canada Translation Bureau during the lunch break. Along with talking about the seminar content, we discussed social media, Algonquin’s program and my search for social media basics and best practices. They were also interested in finding best practices and said they would talk with social media people in their offices and email me information, which I need to follow up about.

As an Editors Canada member, I get a $125 discount on each of their seminars. The majority of the six seminars I took last year and two I’ve already taken this year (I have one more in March), have been invaluable. I expect I will take more next year. I highly recommend them.

COM0015 – Assignment 1 -Blog 4 – Out of the Box

Combining everything that we already knew about SOCIAL MEDIA with all the cases we’ve studied and all the best tools that are to be had: it feels like I’m only ever getting half-way to a solution.  Before starting this program, I thought I had a hunch about a few tools and programs out there in the real world of business meets social media… but.. wait a minute: ‘Things are changing… how will I ever keep up?’

LISTENING + LEARNING + STAYING IN ACTION  = keep to keeping up with trends and generating new ways of looking at the world through the lens of #SocialMediaMeetsBusiness.

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So what do I hope to accomplish with social media?  Is it working? Well, I’m constantly learning new tricks.

From what I gather, I’m using platforms that are suited to my particular field and/or project(s.)  I’m learning from others about the varied style of communication using social media = the ins and outs of sharing your message.  What works for some people is worth a try but it might not quite work for me.  I guess it’s all a question of finding a style and sticking to it..

GOING MOBILE?  Here are a few tools that might come in handy…

I’m always looking for social media inspiration: taking free webinars and online courses.  I have found a whole bunch of useful information about how mobile apps come into play

Instagram can house short videos… Hilary Rushford, of Dean Street Society, hosted a webinar called: ‘Doubling Your Instagram Following.’

Distributing a free workbook, her program talked about free tools for editing and posting images on Instagram.

VSCO CAM = where you add a photo to your library and she talked us through using the editing tools.

@HilaryRushford also talked about the PERISCOPE App = live mobile video streaming; which works really well when you’re sharing content on a road trip, from various locations.

Another useful tool that I’ve grown to love is HOOTSUITE Suggestions...

Right from my iPhone, I am able to call up HOT TOPICS that I can easily share on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

FYI>> It gives you THREE topics to search for and you can assign unlimited accounts… so make sure that you tweak the settings before posting on multiple accounts.  Be #strategic in what you post and where.  Double check your postings on each platform to catch anything that goes wrong.  If in doubt, delete and give it another try.  Skill takes practice.

Puzzled by PINNING?

PINTEREST is a social media platform that would appear to have limited application to business… but Melanie Duncan’s webinar gave me a whole bunch of information about optimizing this platform to steer traffic from PINS back to your company site.

> The type of material you PIN is part of the formula.  Inforgraphics are the most popular format (they spread like wild fire.)

Melanie also suggest the following tools:

PICMonkey =  Protecting your content with a watermark

Easily creating infographics = www.infogr.am

Getting a Pinterest tab for your Facebook Page = www.woobox.com/pinterest

Pinterest stuff = Courtesy of Melanie Duncan (www.powerofpinning.com/course

> The BLOGEME poster thingy I built (featured image)  still lives on scribd.com which I’ve embedded on my personal blog (backdoor access = click expand button on bottom corner) http://ow.ly/MFQx302Y1sy

COM0014 – Blog #2 – Keep It Simple

Your writing needs to be simple, clear, and concise, when storytelling and communicating in the digital world. Overloading a reader (and potentially a customer) with too many ideas, headings, words, and paragraphs, could possibly lose their interest. The key is to capture their attention in an overwhelming sea of other digital messages, through easy to read, and interesting copy.

To do this, first identify precisely what the message is that you want to convey. From here use short headlines, short sentences, and get to the point in a compelling but simple way. Remove words or descriptions that do not add value to your content. This allows your reader to glance through your message to determine if they have come to the right place, and if they want to continue to read. Use excellent grammar and pronunciation, and make sure your spelling is accurate. Not doing so, will be detrimental to your credibility.

It is also more interesting for your reader if you consistently use an active voice, instead of a passive voice to communicate your message. This is because active voice writing keeps your sentences clearer, and keeps your sentences from becoming too complicated and wordy. Too much use of passive voice writing can cloud the meaning of your message, and again, you could potentially lose your reader’s attention.

In summary, the key to successful digital writing is to be simple, clear and concise.

COM0014: Blog Post #2 – Storytelling & Communication Styles

Books

Whose story are you really telling?

This isn’t your grandma’s nighttime reading. At least, not mine. My story is raw, real and colours your thoughts and opinions with language and humour while defining the very nature of living with challenge and perseverance. Writing and blogging about health is a challenge of manipulating story with facts and resources while wrapping the content under an umbrella under which people will want to stand. A challenge of a necessary evil in content creation to determine where my story meets the reader’s expectations to be entertained and educated.

One of the main catchphrases of Lupus Interrupted is, “Life ain’t all about purple painted ponies pooping butterflies jacked up on SugarSmacks.” The reality of how I discovered my story writing abilities and, consequently, my communication style began the very first time my website was declined to be featured on more readily-recognized website due to “the effective use of language that may offend some of our readers.”

Challenge: [Accepted]. I was hooked at that very moment to be the most real “Me.” I could be in my writing. I’d had to look critically at the nature of how I express my thoughts, opinions and my journey itself and compare it to what my readers were wanting when they approached my blog to read as opposed to the plethora of every other health blog and website on the Web 2.0. There are academically sourced, clinical websites. These are not my website, nor do I ever want Lupus Interrupted to become an academically sourced, clinical website. My resonance with my readers and followers is based on my ability to write the authenticity of a journey through autoimmune disease as a woman, a mother and a generally awesome human being thrust in the chaos of the Cosmos of managing the “Everything” in the world.

For those who are familiar with my uber-favourite blog and blogger, “The Bloggess,” you have an idea of where I get my determination to remain true to my own writing and communication style without succumbing to the social stigma of telling a story peppered with language, sarcasm and a rapier wit. Look at the number of comments on her posts and it is a fitting validation of what readers are seeking when they click on any of her content.

I have found the requirement, however, to maintain a balance between posts that my readers can superficially skim and those that require further thought and analysis. Could I ever say that my style brings in the variety of readers (Elementary, Inspectional, Analytical and Syntopical) and engages them on each level? No. And, Yes. I’ve discovered my storytelling abilities are validated when I see them post recognition of various elements I strive to include in my writings. “#gladitude”, for example. I see them actively using thoughts, ideas and expressions they have found within my content and displaying it for others to see on their own social media feeds.

I still strive for the engagement within the blog content itself. Comments usually flow best on the content that my readers most intimately resonate with (usually mental health, parenting or choice of perspective posts) and lack within posts that are product-oriented or factual.

It’s an interesting challenge to continually modify and adapt content within my story telling in order to best resonate with readers and followers in their own journeys through chronic disease. The key is to watch and listen how they are using the content to formulate their own perspectives and how they are choosing to share it (platforms, media, posts) to others.

Do you find your attendance to certain websites is based on your attraction to the content and, if applicable, do you visit various sites because they *are* different in content?

 

COM0014 – Personal Reflection

Reflecting on the concepts presented in this course

I think the most important aspect of this course was that communicators should not forget the research phase. Listen to what people are saying online and discover their needs before beginning to write. Describing the target audience is an extremely important part of research and must come before developing key messages. Communications styles must be considered first. Then the story can start to form around these pillars.

Storytelling: Its importance in creating great digital content

Everyone loves a story. They look for details or incidents that are familiar to them. They love to say “did that, been there”. My goal is to tell a story that allows the reader to relate so they nod their heads in understanding, and keep reading to find out what’s coming next.

My content guided by storytelling

Since I’ve been working in marketing for many years, thinking about everyday life experiences in business should be easy. The challenge will be finding situations that others can relate to and finding a way to weave a story around them. I intend to use experiences from my past work at different marketing agencies and tell stories that provide lessons for readers in this field. I plan to develop stories  around real cases consisting of what worked, what didn’t work, and why.

The kind of stories I want to tell

I want to tell stories that make people want to hire me as a writer or digital marketer and showcase my skills in project management, organization, idea generation. I particularly enjoyed the last lesson of this course which told the legend of the Golden Spruce. There was great symbolism providing a lesson about always looking forward, and not looking back in case of being frozen in the past. This inspired me in writing my last post in which I discussed some of my disappointments and how I handled them. After finishing this course, I plan to write stories that:

  • Use humour
  • Create anticipation. People love the “Aha! moment”.
  • Inspire my target audience to take action
  • Reiterate legends that provide lessons in business and life in general
  • Relate to marketing and communications, using possible case studies

Hopefully, I’ll be able to incorporate the human element into each of them and draw readers in who connect to me and recognize that they need a personable and competent digital marketer and writer.

COM0014 – Telling the Story

          The Near Miss

One of my biggest fears in business is that I might miss a great experience or opportunity. But sometimes it’s a good thing. Has this ever happened to you? Last week, I was driving home when a car pulled out from behind a parked truck and almost hit me head on. The tires screeched and my adrenaline pumped. We didn’t crash – it was a near miss. We paused, looked at each other in relief for a moment, then went on our ways. But what if we’d hit? How would life be different right now?

Sometimes near misses happen in business too. I once found what I thought was the perfect career opportunity. The job description fit my skills and it was just what I wanted. The interview went well and I liked the big boss. I thought an offer was just around the corner, then suddenly . . . nothing. Pure silence. The opportunity fizzled out and I was left empty-handed. A few months later, a friend in the know told me that I’d had a lucky escape. It seems it was just another form of the near miss. My life might have been miserable working for that big boss.

I remember a time of great disappointment when I didn’t get a new client signed on. He seemed so eager to work with me that I started writing his blog before we’d sealed the deal. In a couple of weeks, he replied that some unforeseen circumstances had come up and the timing wasn’t right for his digital media strategy. Was it a lost opportunity or a near miss? Maybe he would have been a difficult client. I may never know.

Does life ever hand you loss or disappointment? Can you reframe some of your life stories and start to think of them as good luck? You might just find you’re grateful for those near misses.