When is a piece too short? When is it too long? Your marketing communications writer needs to factor length and page-/word-count into how she writes for you.
Last night I attended a presentation at my son’s high school. Two presenters spoke in sequence, both with slide decks. Each spoke for 20 minutes, but I felt that the the first one was much longer because he was so poorly organized, and the second was more methodical.
The first guy’s presentation added up to a chat. The second guy’s presentation added up to a story. That makes all the difference.
Long vs. Short
Jonathan Morrow posted on Copyblogger about blog posts that are too long. He kicks off a series on the topic with this observation:
Long blog posts don’t scare away readers; sloppy writing does.
The same thing applies to almost any content: Readers will put up with a long piece – they might have to print it out and save it for later – provided it tells a story.
In fact, they’d rather have a good story than content that is good for them. Your marketing communication writer’s job is to combine the good story with valuable content.
Tell Your Story the Long Way
Does your writer send you drafts with the remark, “If it’s a little on the long side, just let me know what you want to cut out”? If she’s done her job right (i.e., understood the content and the ideal reader), this kind of trimming won’t be necessary.
Here’s how to make long content work:
- It needs to be memorable. The Iliad survived as long as it did in oral form because listeners wanted to remember it.
- It needs to be well organized. If your readers can find the structure in your story – chapters, questions, turning points, images – they can reproduce that structure in their own minds.
- Readers need to be ahead of where they were when then started reading. See Denise Wakeman’s Four E’s: Educate, Entertain, Engage, Enrich for information on providing valuable content.
Do you struggle with content that’s too long? How do you deal with it?