“We wrote our first blog post before we wrote our first line of code.”
- Jon Miller, founder, Marketo

Blogging is important for every business. So we don’t just offer ghostwriting services for others. We blog for ourselves. Why? To discuss big issues such as content strategy, commissioning and ROI, as well as tactics for effective copy creation or editing, not to mention news about Collective Content.

Remember, over a third of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type. Let us know what you’d like to read about here.

Your key to creativity: Documenting and vulnerability

Have you heard about authenticity in your content? It’s been a big theme for a while. But recently at an event I heard Alex Jones from Fjord Trends (part of Accenture these days) talk about vulnerability.

The idea is that those organisations that are open about their problems are more likely to resonate with others and come across as trustworthy.

I get that. And it sits neatly next to another big trend in blogging.

Prominent figures such as Gary Vaynerchuk are among those who have talked about documenting rather than being creative every time you generate content. This is also great advice.

What does that mean? More often than not, just giving an insight into your world is engaging for those you’re talking to. And let’s face it, saying something profound every time you create something isn’t easy.

But what do these two things have in common?

I think there’s a big link between documenting what you do and vulnerability.

We assume, as professionals in any area, that we are experts. As such, our documenting will show that expertise.

As a content agency, for example, we’re inclined to write about things about which we’re sure and sound assured. Isn’t that what clients want to hear?

But in lots of areas – not least content – a number of things are up for debate. Some areas (social media, for example) are fast-moving. You don’t find many books or seminars on the latest trends because they’re evolving so fast.

So often our documenting won’t be bulletproof. It won’t say: ‘Do this. This is the only way.’ Even if we’re not exactly feeling our way with something, we are honest enough to say there’s more than one way to skin a rabbit.

So, documenting, meet vulnerability.

Not all clients and prospects want to hear that you don’t know everything. Possibly the question we hear more than any other is, “Have you done this before?” The implication is also “And was it successful for someone else like us?”

So look for us to talk in coming months about how our experiments with documenting go. After that, we’ll decide if we want to recommend it.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Need a corporate blog but don’t have the time or editorial expertise? Try Speech-to-blog, a corporate blogging service from Collective Content.

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11 essential content marketing links for Q1 17

  1. Your 7 content mega- giga- uber- supra- monster trends for 2017 The start of any year is a good time to consider trends. Big trends. And analyst Forrester made some bold predictions for content marketing, where others often dare not tread.
  2. Virtual vs. physical: The two brand newsroommodels taking over content marketing We like this Contently deep dive because we are often the ‘virtual newsroom’ for brands. Like the piece says, not everyone can do a Nestle or Reebok and become a mini-BuzzFeed.
  3. Content we crave: The untold backstory and the most powerful way to use it This piece caught our eye because this it’s about one of those really big posts that everyone seemed to read at the time. How’d that happen? Its creator explains.
  4. How Generations X, Y, and Z consume video content [Infographic] OK, so this piece is specific to video content consumption. But slicing up trends by the main generations in the workplace today is increasingly common. Note how this piece doesn’t include Baby Boomers nor the over-75s, a number of whom are still in the workforce. Hmm.
  5. Good content is creating meaningful content This post struck a chord, not just because this approach is in part key to content choices. It reminded us of a quotation attributed to Simon Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
  6. How to create content that cuts through the noise OK, time for the voice of experience, to hear from the esteemed Gary Johnson who started out in content in 1973. Lots of wisdom here.
  7. What makes content marketing return ongoing results? We’re always on the lookout for evergreen content – the gifts that keep on giving. This piece looks at approaches that help you in the long term.
  8. 6 ways a ghost writer can really help your business grow We do a lot of ghostwriting. So it’s always nice to hear someone other than us talking it up. Did you know these benefits?
  9. How B2B brands are leveraging Instagram We might not often think of Instagram in terms of B2B. But we can’t ignore this platform’s rapid growth. How can you make the most of that – in a way that doesn’t feel awkward, especially if you don’t have lots of visual material?
  10. 5 ways you are sabotaging your content marketing We don’t always learn from hearing about successes. In that spirit, we like the occasional article like this that highlights where you might be going wrong.
  11. Forget coding: writing is design’s “unicorn skill” We know, we know. A group of writers like Collective Content is going to be seduced by a headline like this. But we thought we’d leave you with the kind of piece we don’t often share. How important is good writing to your business?

Some people assign spiritual meaning to the number 11. Maybe we do too. Or maybe we just think it’s a handy number to round up some of the best stories in content marketing from the past three months. Until next time.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

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Copy-wise: Don’t forget the hyphens

Good punctuation isn’t just a nicety for academics and grammar snobs. Without it, our communications can be a lot more confusing, troublesome and even costly.

For example, the lack of an Oxford comma recently dealt a legal blow to a Maine dairy that was fighting overtime pay for its delivery drivers, when a court ruled the description of who was and who wasn’t covered by overtime rules was too ambiguous to find in the employer’s favour. Tell those dairy drivers good punctuation doesn’t matter.

Most of the time, lists can work with or without Oxford commas, so the decision on whether or not to use them usually boils down to simple style preference. Once in a while, however, this so-called serial comma is a must… because, without it, some sentences can be ambiguous at best or highly confusing at worst. (Consider, for example, what this Oxford-comma-free sentence suggests: “I dedicate this book to my parents, Pope Francis and Björk.”)

There’s another source of ambiguity I’m seeing a lot lately, though: the habit of leaving out hyphens in compound adjectives. Why is that a bad thing? Look again at the sentence in parentheses in the paragraph above and imagine it without the hyphens in ‘Oxford-comma-free’. What you get is this:

‘Consider, for example, what this Oxford comma free sentence suggests…’

Is the sentence ‘free’ while also having something to do with the ‘Oxford comma’? Or is the sentence from ‘Oxford’ also ‘comma free’? Without the hyphens, the meaning becomes a whole lot harder to parse.

Other examples abound:

“I saw a man eating alligator.” Unless you’re having locally-hunted dinner in Cajun country, the correct version is probably: “I saw a man-eating alligator.” (Suggestion from Woodward English.)

“Santa should wear a fire proof vest.” No, what he should wear is a fire-proof vest. (Inspired by Mignon Fogarty, aka ’Grammar Girl’.)

“Because a violent weather conference isn’t the same as a violent-weather conference.” (Credit: The Wichita Eagle’s Grammar Monkeys Twitter account.)

“Because a small-state senator is not the same as a small state senator.” (Grammar Monkeys again.)

 

So next time you string two adjectives together in front of a noun, look at them and ask whether a hyphen would help make your meaning clearer.

As Lynne Truss wrote in Eats, Shoots & Leaves, a classic book of punctuation stickling: “Phrases abound that cry out for hyphens. Those much-invoked examples of the little used car, the superfluous hair remover, the pickled herring merchant, the slow moving traffic and the two hundred odd members of the Conservative Party would all be lost without it.”

Need content right now? Try our new WriteNow on-demand service.

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Contact us

Contact us to find out how we can help you:

Email:  tony.hallett@collectivecontent.co.uk

Twitter:  @ColContent

Facebook: facebook.com/CollectiveContent

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/collective-content

Phone:  0800 086 9333