3 Rules: Content Writing in the Digital Age

It will come as no surprise that the average human attention span is drastically shorter than what it once was. Google the phrase “average attention span” and you are greeted with a number of articles written around the well-known Microsoft 2015 study that demonstrated the average human attention span was down to 8 seconds, “shorter than that of a goldfish.”

However in 2017, an article published on BBC claims the “attention span” decrease is really not as drastic as the headlines indicate. Regardless of which source has the most accurate data, shortened attention spans are a growing concern across industries.

In the world of public relations, the importance of capturing your audience cannot be emphasized enough – especially when it comes to content development. One thing I have found that has drastically improved my writing is remembering these three rules: Keep it short, sweet and simple.

Keep it Short

Regardless of who your audience is, brevity is key when it comes to content writing. At Paragon, we advise clients to keep most articles between 600-800 words. While there are certainly exceptions, this length allows the writer to provide enough context for the reader, while also maintaining his or her focus throughout the entire length.

The ways in which we consume content have also seen a drastic change in recent years, primarily credited to the increased use of technology in our everyday lives. Just a few years ago the average commuter could be found flipping through the pages of a newspaper. If you look around trains, subways or coffee shops today, it’d be shocking if the majority of people weren’t consuming content in some digital form – whether it be on their cell phones, laptops or tablets.

With so much information available instantaneously, keeping content brief and to the point is more important now than ever before.

Keep it Sweet

While keeping content at the right length is important, your readers aren’t going to continue scrolling unless your piece is captivating and relevant. By paying attention to news in your industry, you will recognize relevant topics and themes, allowing you to present your clients with the opportunity to insert themselves into the conversation and share their opinion. The content essentially kickstarts itself in these situations.

Other times, it won’t be as simple. Doing your own background research and talking directly with the client can help to raise some interesting topics and ensures you are informed as the writer.

As my colleague has highlighted in a previous post, one of the most important things to remember here is the age-old expression, “quality over quantity.” To pique your audience’s interest, make sure you are telling a story that is worth telling.

Keep it Simple

While we all love to show off our writing abilities from time-to-time, one of the most overlooked lessons is the value of simplicity. Remember that while you may be well-versed in a topic, many readers won’t be. Therefore, be sure to provide detailed, but concise, explanations and emphasize major highlights and call-to-action points.

Keeping things straightforward goes a long way in ensuring your topic resonates with your readers. Need a good example? Take a look at this clip from “The Office” as Oscar tries to explain the concept of a surplus to Michael.

The Office – LI5 Surplus from Ryan Faucett on Vimeo.

All jokes aside, writing high quality, informative content is a great way to captivate readers and guarantee that your message gets across.

The Times Are a Changin’

As technology continues to change the world we live in, these three tips can help keep your writing digestible and relevant. By keeping it short, sweet and simple, you will never struggle to captivate your audiences across platforms.

Need help spicing up your content? Or just looking for more information about Paragon? Get in touch with us today!

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