Saint Paul, MN
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A good piece, thank you. The story is the most important thing, and a compelling story will hold readers' attention. The problem with most very long pieces is that they break unity, a concept I talked about here: http://spinsucks.com/communication/the-three-elements-of-storytelling/
Formatting can help. A few pictures or graphs or even tables that summarize the story every 400 words or so can help a story move along. But the order of the piece itself is critical.
I do think that 300-400 is a magic limit, and that most topics should be covered in about 800 words. Beyond that you have to pay very close attention to the structure and unity of your piece, making sure that the sub-topics are both important and not dealt with in a casual way.
Some stories do take thousands of words to be dealt with properly. Sometimes they can be broken up into 800 word posts strung out over a few days that tie together into a series, which helps the reader and the writer digest them appropriately. Sometimes you're stuck honestly needing the length.
As long as you are true to the subject and have a good structure it can hold together. People do still read novels, after all! But a long rant with many side issues is still unreadable.
1 month ago on The Changing Face of Long-Form Content
An excellent piece, I hope it becomes industry standard advice.
3 months, 3 weeks ago on Six Ways to Be a Strategic Thinker in PR
Red foxes bark. It's kind of a yippy bark, like a rather small dog would make. Grey foxes have more of a growly bark that almost sound like a heavy smoker clearing this throat.
You're welcome. :-)
5 months, 2 weeks ago on Gin and Topics: What Does the Fox Say?
Write for humans, edit for SEO. It seems to apply more than ever. A good 800 word article with the keyword about once per paragraph seems to get google's attention more than ever, and my own hits from google have gone up. But, of course, the most important thing now are related terms that come from a properly written piece on a topic and that takes space.
Good for google for working so hard to get us past the era of garbage!
6 months, 1 week ago on Create In-Depth Articles to Increase Your Google Authority
@HowieG Joyce was mad. What's wrong with that? :-)
1 year, 4 months ago on National Novel Writing Month Begins Today and We’re Participating
I heard my name. Am I in trouble? :-)
I do a lot of initial reviews of works - there's a score sheet that I use to get into important elements like character, plot, opening, etc. If anyone else would like to make use of this service, please let me know. The easiest way is by using my real name, Erik Hare, as a gmail address (how's that for anti-spam?).
On History Channel there is a small series (4 episodes, I think) called "The Men Who Built America" that I think everyone should watch. It's a great bio/doc on Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan, and Ford that includes comments from entrepreneurs so that you can really get into their heads. It's incredibly compelling stuff - and all very true.
1 year, 4 months ago on The Three Things, Edition 5
This is a bit more advanced, but it can be important for Midwesterners in particular. A scan for passive voice can be done by searching for "ing" when editing. If it is part of a sentence with a "be" verb, such as "I am looking for someone to do this", you know it's passive. A stronger sentence is "I need someone to do this" or even "Someone must do this".
You mentioned the over-use of "that" - a quick search for a few words as a first pass at editing (that, like, ing) is an easy way to dive into the very difficult skill of editing your own stuff. Everyone has their own "ticks" that they need to look for - one of mine is "just", as in "just a little bit". Once you know your ticks you can add them to the list that everything more important than a one-off email gets before you ship it.
Teaching how to edit your own stuff is a skill I love to teach people. It helps me do a better job if nothing else. :-) It's also very critical, IMHO.
1 year, 5 months ago on Six Tips for Better Business Writing
@bdorman264 There is a huge leadership gap throughout the developed world right now. It's not just politics - it's business, religion, and everything. There are great leaders out there, I'm sure - or at least potential ones ready to be made. We all have to insist on better before we will get the leadership we all so desperately need.
(Ginny is certainly doing her part!)
1 year, 6 months ago on Spin Sucks…Even in Political Ads
Having run a few campaigns myself, I have to say that the "air war" has completely disintegrated to the point of being nothing but a real liability for everyone involved. The key to any political campaign has always been efforts on the ground to organize and mobilize - and this nonsense only makes that harder. What's interesting is that the lessons we learn on the ground in politics have a place in general marketing, especially for small biz. But this crap? Feh.
Big media has been rendered useless by terrible practices, IMHO. I think that goes all around. As long as it doesn't ruin social media, too, but that may be too late as well.
Congrats! You've been at it one year longer than I have. I'm more of a deliberate rule-breaker than you are, but my blog has always been more of an experiment. I've tested out theories about what the latest google updates favor and don't favor (that can be a ton of fun) and deliberately run against the grain of what people think a blog is supposed to be. It still works because of consistency in posting - every MWF - but certainly not consistency in topic!
Gini, I have a conference coming up where I'm going to get into a discussion (note: not "give a talk") about developing a community on a blog. This is the best example I can think of. There is really no more consistent community of people who are, by and large, engaged in the topic and not wandering too far off into inanity as many blogs do. People are also respectful here and can get into difficult subjects without heating up the "ex machina" problem that fills many sites with flame wars. That's your leadership, and it's important to let people know how it works!
1 year, 6 months ago on Lessons (and Stats) from Six Years of Blogging
I have experience in politics (ran a campaign, media/sm rep for 2 others) and I'm in Minnesota, where a ballot initiative banning Universal Marriage is on the ballot. So I get to see these things up close and pretty intensely.
I don't think companies should ever get into these issues unless they have it well thought out from many angles. That includes people on "my side", such as General Mills. Corporate speech and politics is a much more dangerous mix than the issues around Citizens United.
For example, the fake facebook account may not have been created by Chick-fil-a - there are many people who would do that in support of a new ally in the midst of a media storm. But this is how it all spins very far out of control very quickly when you stray into emotional issues far afield from your corporate mission.
The best advice to companies who want to take a stand? Do it behind the scenes, and if that doesn't seem good enough and you want to be public have people completely on watch for bad behavior on your side as well as the other. It's a time for quick action and rising above the circus that will result.
General Mills did pretty well here managing their foray into the Universal Marriage issue. When they had protesters, the CEO brought them coffee. It was cute. But most of the time the fire and fury will catch a company far off guard, and that's happening to Chick-fil-a right now.
1 year, 7 months ago on The Chick-fil-A PR Crisis
"Content is King"
Yeah, right. Some of the comments here tie this into trendy nonsense (a certain family whose name starts with K comes to mind) and I agree completely. The pressure to create quantity of content, some of which is "nooze", has been sorely working against quality generally. This is only one symptom of the problem, IMHO.
As a person who attempts to create quality content for both myself and my clients I find that I am being appreciated a tiny bit more every day. That makes me feel good. But it's still a tough battle to fight. Until a real value is placed on quality we'll see a lot of this crap in various forms.
1 year, 7 months ago on Trust Me I’m Lying: How One Person is Hurting an Entire Industry
@John_Murphy Yes, starting with "I'm not _____" is a passive way of saying "I am _____ but too cowardly to be open about it, even as it clearly defines my speech and choice of topics." It's a sign of very weak character, IMHO.
1 year, 7 months ago on Marissa Mayer: Why Are We Still Having this Conversation?
I've been thinking about this a bit, and I'm still pretty pissed off about how sexist most of the coverage of Mayer's appointment has been. But when I think about how I would write this story on my own terms, I think the pregnancy is pretty important - it would seem odd to NOT mention it, since it is a first.
So how would *I* handle this? First of all, if she were a man I would mention having a young and/or growing family - but only in passing. And in this case, I think it deserves just a bit more than that.
We're dealing with a rather unconventional person here - a real leader in many ways who has taken several unusual paths. Signing up with google so early on and taking that risk is worth mentioning. A programmer rising to a management position is important. The interview with Lady Gaga deserves a mention, just for weirdness. And the pregnancy can be included in that same paragraph.
So I don't think it should be entirely left out - that would stand out as a glaring admission to many people. But some context for understanding that Mayer is a person who does things her own way would make it a much more rich story. Throw in how Yahoo! needs some fresh air and you have a pretty good story, I'd say.
But I would never offer "advice" or a comparison to Fiorina. That's just dumb and sexist.
(note: I'm from the East, and we refer to people we don't know by last name. Women, too. The only time it gets weird is when you reference "Clinton", so the title "Secretary Clinton" is handy. Calling Mayer "Marissa" in an article just looks sexist and wrong, IMHO.)
@ginidietrich I haven't seen sexism this bad since ... well, we've talked about reproductive health as an employer option lately .... yeah, this crap is absolutely endemic. It's like we entered a time-warp in here somehow and we're back in the 1950s (or worse).
I think you're right on here. For years, Yahoo! has been were good apps go to die. Turning around the mess at Yahoo! is one Hell of a story on its own and anyone who isn't writing this that way is one seriously off the mark. Sexism is all over this story as it's being told and it really does make me sick.
Comments are what make us better. My humble li'l blog is absolutely nothing more than the things I simply have to get out of my head if I'm going to have a chance at doing something considered "productive" in a world that has no use for what's on my mind. And I get a fair number of comments on it, too, which is great. But through the discussion these diversions of mine become more clear, crystalline thoughts that sometimes add up to something far more than they were when I had to clear them out.
It's always best to talk these things through and be social about it. So why not respond and be a part of a discussion? I've been blessed with a community that rarely gives me "great post!" or other BS comments and they rarely stray far off the topic at hand, so why shouldn't I be a part of the discussion?
Good comments make us better - as writers, as philosophers, as humans.
1 year, 8 months ago on Responding (Or Not) to Blog Comments
Before I head off to another discussion on the future of fiction publishing and how we can make a biz out of what is needed, a few comments.
Publishing is changing rapidly. The value of a real publisher used to be first the editors and then the marketing arm. Both are really thin these days - the editing process has been trimmed dramatically and most authors have to push their work on their own. The value of a real publisher is pretty limited.
That said, there are still advantages if you can swing it. An advance is, of course, ideal, but few get that. Most writers have to prove themselves first, and that usually means self-publishing. Many people talk about "published" works now including self-published, a major faux pas just a few years ago. So there is no reason to not go ahead and self-publish if you want to get something out.
My own fiction is its own thing, and I'll self-publish as I see fit. I have one self-published novel and another that is awaiting a final draft - a TON of work that I just can't get myself to do. It's tough to get the energy up to do it.
Non-fiction business books are a very different reality, especially in the market. It's much easier to find an audience, even on your own. If you know social media there's no reason to not give it a go and make it happen - but you do have to stand out in some way.
1 year, 9 months ago on Self-Publishing vs. Publisher: Why You Should Do Both
I have a few contact that was formally with PostRank, the great service recently killed off by google (sniff!) after purchase. I was told that what google bought with PostRank wasn't the technology, but the talent. I think that may be what is going on with instagram, at least in part.
Just like google+ (and what I consider its failure so far) the proof for facebook is always in the integration of all these kewl toys. A seamless one-stop shop for "appliance users" is always going to have a place advantage over leading-edge stuff with too many options that appeals to the cool kids - it's a different, and much bigger market.
1 year, 9 months ago on Three Reasons Facebook Camera Will Work