Blurbs might not be glamorous, but they’re an essential part of a company’s content.
We’ve all read the events calendar section, or the fun page, or a quick spread on hurricane awareness. These pages don’t have bylines, are usually graphic-driven and are beloved by return readers and customers. They’re essential to filling out a content plan and making yourself a thought leader in an area. I’ve had experience writing for editorial spreads online in blog form and for online publications and also for print spreads.
The editorial page above was adapted from existing lists by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association, FEMA and other antional organizations devoted to hurricane awareness. I read enough of these lists to get the common themes, and pulled out the specific bullet points I felt would be relevant to our audience. When it comes to editorial content, most projects aren’t about reinventing the wheel. The spreads involve aggregating data with a good design sensibility. The combination of visuals and relevancy should make them pages that no reader or viewer wants to skip over.
When it comes to something like an events calendar, you want to make yourself keyword central. Austin events, events in Austin, Art Sales in Austin and Formula One Austin are all examples of phrases that should be peppered throughout your copy if you’re trying to be a reliable source for calendar information in the area. Crafting pages like the one above for print has traditionally been about making these events sound exciting and worth paying for.
In the online world, you’re primarily trying to grab traffic that’s already interested in the topic. It’s a different audience. But the skillset is similar: choose your words carefully, there’s only so much room in a blurb so word choice is crucial.
The same goes for sponsored content online or in your print publication. Making sure the reader doesn’t know they’re being sold to keeps them interested in the content. The information should be relevant to the audience (ie. a local, MSG-free restaurant is a perfect fit for Austin Fit Magazine), and the story should be well-written. Making sponsored content doesn’t have to be a morally dubious endeavor as long as you’re pushing a brand that aligns with your company’s values and is in general offering a service or good you believe in.
A huge driver of website traffic and brand interest are “Best Of” contests. Austin Fit Magazine does a reader-centric contest every year where local businesses compete for their category. Writing up a small blurb for every winner is a huge project, but increases the value ad for the companies participating by adding information for potential customers. I did all of the editorial content for the 10 page spread above as a freelance assignment for AFM. Getting to know each of the winners enough to write two sentences was a huge undertaking, but the effort to do so gives the entire competition more legitimacy.