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The biggest risk in communications is not that we might offend someone with creativity or write something that’s eye-rollingly goofy. The biggest risk communicators run is that we never get heard at all.
How do we engage people and get them excited about our content? The key is to make our content more creative.
Why creative content writing? Because creative content:
• Grabs attention
Our readers receive the data equivalent of 174 newspapers a day — ads included, according to a study by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.
Interesting information cuts through the clutter.
• Keeps attention
Creative material also keeps attention — through the piece and over time.
That’s one reason the feature-style story structure outperforms the inverted pyramid in study after study.
So the communicator’s job is to “make the important interesting,” says James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly.
• Communicates better
You can only explain some concepts through creative writing techniques.
For instance, former surgeon general C. Everett Koop once compared a sophisticated technique for correcting an undeveloped esophagus to “threading together two wet noodles in the bottom of an ice cream cone with your eyes closed.”
That’s a concept you can only communicate to a lay audience by using the creative technique of metaphor.
• Enhances credibility
People are more likely to believe information if it’s presented as an anecdote than if it’s presented as a number, according to Peg Neuhauser’s Corporate Legends and Lore.
Why are stories more credible than statistics?
One reason is the Peer Principle of Persuasion: People connect with people. Readers find messages more readable, understandable and persuasive when you let a person stand for your point. That’s one reason human interest is so persuasive.
And why are statistics less credible than stories?
Your readers have learned not to trust every number they encounter. “There are three kinds of lies,” as Mark Twain said back in the day. “Lies, damned lies and statistics.”
• Lingers longer in the readers’ mind
People are more likely to remember creative content than boring content.
One reason, according to Neuhauser: People process just plain facts in one way — intellectually, it goes through their brain. But they process the creative technique of storytelling in three ways:
That’s three ways readers can tamp it into their minds… and three ways they call pull it up later, when they want to remember the story and its point.
• Gets shared
If you want your message to get shared, then you need to give readers something worth sharing. People are likely to share humor, stories and other entertaining elements.
People are most likely to share information, according to research by Chadwick Martin Bailey:
- Because I find it interesting/entertaining (72 percent)
- Because I think it will be helpful to recipients (58 percent)
- To get a laugh (58 percent)
But when was the last time you had some friends over for a pitcher of your signature margaritas, and you all spent the evening batting around a few good statistics?
If you want people to share, then give them something shareable.
• Sells products, services, programs and ideas
As mid-century adman David Ogilvy said, “Nobody ever sold anybody anything by boring them to death.”
Want readers to buy your Whozit or Whatzit? Choose creative content writing.
Ann Wylie works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. To learn more about her training, consulting or writing and editing services, contact her at ann@WylieComm.com. Get FREE writing tips here. Get more than 2,000 writing tip sheets at RevUpReadership.com.
Copyright © 2021 Ann Wylie. All rights reserved.
[Illustration credit: patpitchaya]