Romancing the Writing

I’m a “just the facts” kind of girl. As a newspaper reporter, I cut my teeth on the police beat. I covered city and town government. I covered higher education.

Eventually I moved into feature writing, but I struggled to paint a picture for my readers and create a connection.

Now I have a new way of looking at my writing. I focus on “romancing the writing.” It’s a phrase I heard during a recent meeting.

We were talking about messaging in the context of donors and how we could connect in a more meaningful way with them. But the “romancing the writing” phrase is applicable on so many levels.

Writing this blog is one way that I think I am “romancing the writing” and that’s because I have a clear picture of you the readers of this blog. I can imagine you asking me specific questions and so as I write, I weave in the answers. I think about what might be relevant or of interest to you.

It applies when I write my column for NFPW’s monthly e-letter. It applies when I’m writing a speech or a magazine article. Only now instead of simply painting the story, I try to introduce some romance into the writing so that the reader or listener will be intrigued by my flirtation with them and will want to read further or listen longer. I attempt to punctuate my writing with gems and other small gifts.

When the reader finishes the article or the listener has heard the final words of the speech, I hope they will have enjoyed the date and will want to make a commitment to meet again.

Romance – on any level – requires work, and never more so than in writing.

Rubel Describes the Future of Social Media

We’re snacking on content all day as a result of social media, says Steve Rubel, senior vice president and director of insights for Edelman Digital.

He made his comments as part of the recent online Social Media Summit. Did you know that Americans visit on average 111 domains each month? Or that we view 2,500 Web pages each month?

So what does the future hold? He says that we will have digital embassies and that we must equip employees to become ambassadors. It’s critical that each of us embraces multiplicity and diversity. And, simply, use the force, don’t fight it.

Rubel sees three trends:

1)      Streams that will be fast and furious

2)      Digitally visible

3)      Insights and data

Being digitally visible will include paid search, owned search SEO, earned search and social search. YouTube is the #2 searched site behind Google.

Rubel expects that “we’ll tap into free tools and become data junkies.”

The trends aren’t that different from traditional communications. We all had to adapt to electronic communications. We have to ensure that our company or product is visible in a 24/7 environment. And we have to monitor, measure and analyze our efforts.

What trends are you seeing?

Don’t Fear Twitter

Okay, I’m going to do it. I’m going to start tweeting. Do you tweet? Are you thinking about it? If you’re a newbie, don’t fear Twitter. That’s some of the advice I heard as part of a panel presented by Social Media Summit.

Who to Follow…

Brian Clark (@copyblogger) suggests following people “relevant to what you are about and what your business is about.” He also suggests sharing more than just the content you have on your blog. “Sharing is a sign of status on the web,” he says.

Chris Brogan (@ChrisBrogan) suggests listening for a bit before deciding who to follow. And he strongly recommends against sucking up to the big names, such as Ashton Kutcher. It’s not going to get you more followers.

Keeping up with Tweets…

Chris says you don’t have to read every tweet. (Halleluiah!) Even if you tried, he says there is no way to keep up with all the tweets.

He recommends using tools, such as TweetDeck, which is a personal real-time browser. You can also use Twellow, a directory of public Twitter accounts. And don’t forget TwitterSearch. 


Twitter is more than simply sending out 140 characters. Chris says it’s about building relationships and connecting. That’s why the @ replies are so important.

Says Darren Rouse (@Problogger), “Twitter is a relationship building tool.”

Are you ready to connect?

Editors/Freelancers Face Off

Notice to freelancers – editors don’t want much from you. Here’s what they want –

1)      Good copy

2)      Clean copy

3)      On-time copy

4)      Someone who follows instructions.

That’s what editors shared during a session of Virginia Press Women’s spring conference in Roanoke.

Dan Smith, editor of Valley Business Front, and former editor of Blue Ridge Business Journal, also urges writers to write in their own voice. “Hang on to it,” he says. “It makes you a better writer.”

“The editor’s role is to give the writers as much room, support and guidance,” says Keith Ferrell, freelance writer and former editor of Omni magazine.

Freelance writer Deborah Huso says she wants editors who return phone calls and emails. “There needs to be basic courtesy and good communication,” she notes.

She also urges writers to have a contract before proceeding with any writing. “You do not work for a magazine, you work for the editor,” she says. “If a new editor comes in don’t assume the old contract is valid.”

Digital media has changed the freelance landscape. Deborah says writers should get paid for all the uses of their articles. “Don’t be afraid to negotiate, especially if you’ve been in the business for a long time,” Deborah says.

Neither Dan or Keith disagreed with Deborah’s perspectives. Dan says, “Talk to other writers for the publication and find out about their experiences” before you start writing for a new publication.

“We work with our writers to accommodate their requests,” Dan adds. “We want to be on the writer’s side.”

They all agreed on one point – if you’re going to be a freelance writer, you have a to be a business person first and a writer second.