“As for the critics, tell me I don’t get it / Everybody can tell you how to do it, they never did it.” – Jay–Z featuring Kid Cudi, “Already Home”
One doesn’t need to be a Jay-Z fan to appreciate his take on facing a challenging task, seemingly with no useable advice on how to achieve it. Public relations professionals sometimes find themselves in a similar position, tasked with creating informative and interesting content on a subject matter they may be unfamiliar with.
However, tackling complex content doesn’t always have to be a cause for concern. Here are four tips to help you simplify your content and make your PR writing shine:
1. Know Your Audience
If you regularly create content on other people’s behalf, you know one of the keys to being a good ghostwriter is learning how to say things in your client’s voice. (If you could use help finding that voice, this post about ghostwriting has some handy tips.) In addition to the voice you are using, it is also important to understand the audience that will be reading your material.
For example, think about the difference between writing for a hedge fund investment broker and someone who has to Google what a “hedge fund” is. If your target audience is familiar with concepts and industry jargon like “liquid assets” and how to search for a hedge fund adviser’s Form ADV, your content can be more technical. On the other hand, if your audience is first-time investors, you will have to use simplified language and explain complex concepts in order to ensure your piece is understood. If a piece is particularly jargon-heavy, you can even consider including a glossary of keywords.
2. Embrace Visual Aids
Writing about a topic that’s a mouthful? Use a visual aid to help explain it. Bar graphs, pie charts, side-by-side tables, a circle explaining the steps in a process — all are good methods to share information that might get lost in a long paragraph. Even if you’re writing things out, images can be a great way to help people visualize the message your piece is trying to communicate.
Want to go one step further? Consider adding a video that walks the viewer through the subject. Creating simple videos in Canva is a great place to start — check out our tips for doing so here.
3. Apply the K.I.S.S. Principle
“Keep it simple, stupid” — it may not be the nicest phrase, but the statement is one of the best pieces of advice for approaching a complex topic. When producing complex content, remember you’re telling a story and you should drill down to the most essential elements needed to tell that story.
Of course, there are plenty of topics that may not be easy to simplify. To use the previous example, you can Google “hedge fund” all day long and may struggle to understand anything you find. With that in mind, a source like investor.gov is a good place to start for a couple of reasons:
- It’s an official web site of the U.S. government;
- It has plenty of how-to resources for “getting started” resources;
- It’s about as easy to read as you’re likely to find in terms of financial writing.
Based on the information on that site, you might write something like: “A hedge fund is a pool of money collected from a group of people that is used to invest in financial securities such as stocks, bonds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). They are limited to wealthier investors who can afford the higher fees and risks.”
This sentence doesn’t assume what financial securities are, nor does it assume everyone knows who can invest in them – it also doesn’t assume everyone knows the risks and that they are limited to wealthier investors. This could be the start of a great piece about multiple topics such as “Hedge Funds 101,” “Worth the Risk? Hedge Funds and You” or even a personal piece about what you wish you knew before investing.
4. Eliminate Unnecessary Details
People like details. People also used to like Details magazine, but not since 2015.
If you just wondered “What does that have to do with anything?” — good. As that example shows, using too many details, out-of-place anecdotes, or random facts hurts your message. With complex subject matter, too many details can lead to information overload and clouds the reader’s understanding of your message.
To avoid this, utilize five little words — “For more information, click here” — whenever possible and hyperlink to a credible source with additional details. You may also consider creating a blog series to explore the topic further; this will keep your readers coming back for more and builds your reputation as a valuable source.
By following these four steps, tackling complex content in your next PR writing task will be challenging no more. Now go forth and create!
Looking for more writing tips? The experts at Scooter Media have you covered! Check out “3 Editing Tools to Improve Your PR Writing,” and “The Importance of Word Choice in Communicating Your Brand’s Message.”