“Flash, flash, flash - that’s what you want to go for”, prompts Russell de la Porte. The writer is not lecturing a group of photographers on how to shoot pictures; he is holding a workshop on writing articles, press releases, or Facebook posts. Among his listeners are programme coordinators, project managers, and researchers. Today, professional writing skills have transcended the realms of the media world and entered the daily work of nearly every field.
“Get your stuff into people’s faces”
With that in mind, the Hanns Seidel Foundation Namibia (HSF), invited de la Porte – author, trainer, and consultant – for a two-day workshop to Windhoek’s House of Democracy. On the 15th and 16th of March 2017, employees of HSF and their partner organisations were learning to get their “stuff into people’s faces”, as the writing coach put it bluntly.
Because in our fast paced society, “less is more” has become the mantra of the online publishing world. With an overload of information on the web, you have to write eye-catching pieces – the snappier, the better – “flash, flash, flash”. On blogs or Social Media “a picture is worth a 1000 words”, de la Porte knows from experience. So attention over content, ranking over quality? Absolutely not. While quick attention and high ranking in search engines are great, the reader will tire quickly if the content is not adding up. That means a topic has to be well researched and carefully checked for mistakes in the editing process.
Just like any building, a good text requires a good foundation. Here, structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation are those fundaments, and they are often overlooked. A faulty text will gnaw on the credibility of the author and in the process on the company they are representing.
“Get straight to the point with as few words as possible”
Being aware of today’s struggle to produce quality content on the web, the author released a book in 2014, entitled “The Natural Creative Process in Writing”. There, he emphasises the importance of writing fault-free and reveals tips and tricks on how to “get yourself into that creative mindset”. Tight and vibrant writing are among the core virtues of a good copywriter: “Get straight to the point with as few words as possible”, de la Porte quotes, book in hand.
And yet, you can have the most creatively written piece, red-line-free in every spell check, and still get no attention. That’s where Google Plus (G +) come into play, says the trainer. Getting high up on the world’s number one search engine is as important as getting the piece on paper. Posting on G+ will likely lead to a better search engine ranking because your text is directly indexed by Google.
Following the basic rules presented by Russell de la Porte, now comes practice. Only that will make you a pro.