Content creation should always be particularly high on your list of priorities. As discussed in our previous post ‘How to measure the value of blog content’, it really is one of the most effective ways for construction marketers to demonstrate their expertise, sell their services and appear high in search.
However, as much as content is crucial to any business, you should always have a justifiable reason for writing a particular post or case study in the first place. Not only will this enable you to write more effectively, it will enable you to avoid wasting precious working hours on a blog post that serves no real purpose.
We are aware that creating good quality content is easier said than done, which is why this simplistic guide should help you get the ball rolling.
However it’s important to note that this guide is for your day-to-day content; to find out more about writing in-depth technical content, our guide to writing white papers may be more useful.
So first things first, always start with why you’re writing the news item, picture caption story, case study or blog post in the first place…
• What do you hope to achieve by writing it?
• What is it for? Is it to provide news or information?
• How will the content help either drive traffic to the site or add value for visitors?
• What difference will publishing this news/ blog post make? Will it inform, update, advise?
You must then define what type of story you are creating; this will help you to decide how to write it.
• A case study is likely to be more about the challenges faced and the solution provided.
• A CSR story is likely to be more about what the company provided and what the benefit to the recipient was.
• A story about a new product or service will focus more on the benefits to the customer and where they can go to find out more.
• Staff stories are about making the company approachable. Who is the new starter? Why have they joined? How will they help the customers and most importantly how can you get in touch with them?
Why is your chosen story important to your customers and your marketing objectives? If you don’t know the answer, don’t write it.
Unless you can tick yes to all of the below you should consider the value in writing the piece of content.
1. Is it a worthy topic?
2. Do you have a suitable image?
3. What is the purpose or call to action?
4. What marketing objective/action does it support?
To keep this briefing document simple I’ve covered case studies and smaller ‘picture caption’ stories that are used mainly for PR.
Other types of content are news items and technical blog posts, which are discussed in our White paper E-book.
For all project based content the first step is to get a complete PR form from the relevant person or department.
1. Once you have a completed PR form, speak to the contact that filled it in and probe for any information that may not be in the form – trust me there will be lots!
2. Once equipped with as much internal information begin your desk research, this should include: relevant news items for supporting information, planning considerations, architect and main contractor information (usually at this point I find images I can beg, steal, borrow or pay for).
3. Once you’re confident that you have enough background on the project start to draft a list of questions for each contact.
Start with the architect, then the client (or main contractor). This will give the start and end of the project and give useful information to then speak to the contractor.
Believe me you’ll need this background information. Gaining contractor information starts off slowly but, using the background you’ve gained, you’ll be able to probe and ask questions that (often) will lead to the hidden gem of the case study.
4. With both desk and telephone research complete you’re on the home straight. Writing it up is the easy bit. If you’ve done 2 and 3 well this part should begin to flow from your notes. If it doesn’t flow yet then don’t panic; structure the content into its 4 main areas the objective, the challenge, the solution and the outcome.
5. Once you’ve written up the content send it to a colleague; this is required for a general sense check and a proof read before it goes anywhere else.
6. Approvals… This is the part that I always underestimate the time it will take. The content should be sent to all companies that have contributed and all known/mentioned in the piece. Be careful how you word the email to ensure you don’t encourage changes but makes the contact feel involved in the process.
7. Images – whilst the approvals are happening use the time to organise the images. Check they’re high enough resolution to print (over 50% of PR is still print based so this is important).
Gain the correct usage rights or approval to use the image and make any image amends, where required, crediting the photographer. This prevents the image being accidentally used incorrectly.
8. It is then time to begin the PR/Production charge process.
Picture Caption Story
As with the case study, all project based content should have a completed PR form from the relevant person or department.
Some of the elements are similar to the case study process but the content varies greatly. The clue is really in the name.
Picture caption stories are usually PR stories sent out with a great image and 150-300 words. Picture captions are usually about a stunning project or big name that you’d like association with. Alternatively it could be a nice job that warrants promotion but that doesn’t have masses of information (or you can’t get past stage 3 of the case study).
Here’s how you write one:
1. As with a case study, once you have a completed PR form, speak to the contact that filled it in and probe for any information that may not be in the form.
2. As above, begin your desk research, this should include: relevant news items for supporting information, planning considerations, architect and main contractor information (usually at this point I find images I can beg, steal, borrow or pay for).
3. Write up your story. This is where it becomes different. This content doesn’t require the same depth as a case study. Ensure that the content is factual and can be substantiated (you’ll see why when we get to approvals).
4. Source and check usage rights to high quality images. Don’t forget that’s what this content relies upon.
5. Approvals. As this post is factual and includes an image that you have the rights to use, further approval will only be needed if you’ve referenced other companies or the project team in the copy.
6. Being the production charge process and send out for PR.
A picture caption is only 2 stages shorter but 2 of those stages are the most time consuming in the whole process.
Don’t forget that at any point in these processes it is always essential to have somebody else to support you and read over your piece of content; you can’t proof read your own work and sometimes fresh eyes can help bring the project to life.
To talk to us about your content strategy, give us a call on 01908 671707 or download the White paper here.
And of course if you did enjoy the read, please give us a tweet 🙂
Good luck, and happy writing!