Eight Ways to Upgrade Your E-News
Heavy-hitter e-news managers regularly use eight or more editorial enhancements in every posted article. Unfortunately, according to early results of my 8th annual e-news study, many B2B sites clearly are less than the best. For instance, of 220 articles scored so far, 173, or 79%, earned “low or lower” enterprise ratings. My new 60% enterprise presence target (EPT) was reached by just four sites. Of the 22 sites measured, 16 carried EPT ratings below 40%.
Several previous posts here have addressed how best to resolve enterprise challenges. But there are other basic, easy-to-accomplish editing steps that you should consider including in every article. Here are eight possibilities, many of which have not been covered in any of my previous e-news studies.
- Blockbuster-length lead articles. Thousand-word articles are a rare B2B e-news occurrence for many sites. The common explanation is that longer, in-depth articles require journalistic enterprise beyond staff size capability. According to some observers, a decent news story can be achieved within a range of 500 to 800 words. But for many sites, even that goal seems to be too much. Regardless, at least once a week your site should offer one blockbuster article in terms of length and number of direct quotes.
- Separate site devoted to real news. For many sites, product releases are the only source of all news. They are easy to write and can fulfill efforts to provide editorial support for advertisers and prospects. With this format, important end-user news never shows up. But you can be sure some other alert competitor is filling that pipeline.
- Increased number of end-user quotes. This has been an ongoing end-user study shortfall. To address this problem, I introduced an End-User-Visibility yardstick. It was immediately applied in end-user studies involving 10 new articles posted per issue. The target average established was one end-user source per article. As reasonable as that goals seems, it has proven to be unreachable most of the time. For example, so far in my current e-news study, nobody has made the grade.
- Use embedded links often. Too many online editors follow a policy of posting one link per article, if that many. Instead try for at least three or more per post. In this area, we can take a lesson from consumer publications. In my current e-news study, where ten articles per site are reviewed, the top scoring site used 80 links. But I still encounter sites with no links at all in articles.
- Head and deck combos are your best bet. Headlines alone may not offer a sufficient preview, especially if longer articles are involved. One top-scorer in my current study leads with a story-telling headline followed by an immediate three-paragraph prelude. After that the real scoop begins. Especially obvious when Best Headline competitions are judged is an absence of high-impact numbers. Also to be avoided is overlap where the deck duplicates rather than elaborates on the headline message.
- Reach the key story-point quickly. Avoid an introductory sentence that uses more than ten words to get started. And definitely don’t begin an article by merely identifying story sources and company product line. Also a good idea: Not getting hung up on anecdotal intros that readers may not appreciate.
- Document enterprise effort. My e-news studies suggest that many news writers are satisfied with producing lightly edited PR announcements. But there is another faction that aggressively pursues exclusive content. Often this leads to extensive contact via face-to-face, telephone, or e-mail exchanges. If you are in that latter group, remind readers of the fact. Always use “as told to” or “received in an e-mail” reminders to get the message out.
- Don’t forget to clear the fog. Despite efforts discouraging parades of endless sentences, for many editors the habit remains unbroken. If the average sentence length of articles you write or edit exceeds 25 words, some defogging is in order. Of the 220 articles reviewed so far for my current e-news study, 82 required word-trimming.
So there you have it—an achievable editing upgrade list. The key point to remember is that there are competitors out there who do all of these things already. Don’t let determined outsiders beat you to the punch.