Editing basics upgrade ideas — Part II: Six reasons why some sites need total revision
How disappointing can B2B e-news delivery get? I had my answer this week while analyzing additional sites for my seventh annual study. The site in question scored 52.9 out of a possible 100 points. This accomplishment landed it among the bottom ten. But it could easily have been recognized as worst of show when it came to the basic requirements of e-news editing. Let’s look: We may not agree in every case about lack of merit. Be that as it may, no site in my study has reached the target score of 80 or higher. Of the 28 sites now reviewed, seven managed to score between 60 and 70; 15 sites earned below 55 points.
(1) No end-users were quoted among the ten articles analyzed. Instead, Site X relied on a mix of new-product announcements and personnel appointments. Nine of the ten articles posted showed no evidence of enterprise. Six were unable to earn higher than a “low” rating. This site has to follow the lead of wiser B2B e-news managers and break off product announcements into a separate site. Devote the main site to real news with plenty of end-user quotes.
(2) Online editors who rely on personnel announcements to fill space should consider converting the coverage into more enterprising articles. Instead of settling for announcement rewrites, interview each person spotlighted. Get some exclusive quotes about plans or key industry trends. Try hard to eliminate standard appointment quotes that emphasize “we’re happy he’s here” . . . “we’ll do great things for sure” or other uninformative praises.
(3) The authors of all of the site’s articles were identified as “editorial staff” rather than a specific writer. If you do this, you run the risk of conveying an impression—perhaps true—that all the items are PR rewrites or unedited announcements. This reality can work against you in competitive analysis match-ups.
(4) A news article’s first sentence should make a key story point within the first ten words. Most e-news sites I’ve reviewed during this annual study meet the challenge. But editors at the lagging site discussed here provided bogged-down intros because they preferred a source-first, news-later writing style.
(5) B2B news writers must do a better job of clarifying whether quotes in the article came from a personal interview. Quotes from PR announcements don’t reflect evidence of enterprise. Use “X told editor” wording at least once in the article if personal contact occurred. When this site used direct quotes from an alleged legitimate source, it was apparent from the language used that the input was provided rather than gained through interview.
(6) This site’s editorial manager may or may not grasp the importance of posting content of universal interest. Ideally, all e-news should meet this requirement. For instance, a new product may be of limited concern to the entire readership. Appointment of a distributor or rep has limited impact on the entire industry. It’s a good idea to brainstorm with staff to develop a list of several news topics where coverage will meet the universality of interest requirement.