Where Does That Content Come From Anyway?

June 2016

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

There’s a reason it’s called custom content in our line of work. No two Twirling Tiger Media creations look or read the same way—everything is composed from scratch for a specific client.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many custom publishers are prone to repurpose existing copy and imagery to save money, time and bandwidth. After all, creating something from nothing takes a lot of work.

At Twirling Tiger Media, our client projects follow a proven process making the most efficient use of everyone’s time. Clients can be as involved or removed in the content creation as they desire. Our methodology also ensures our publications and content marketing stand out for the right reasons, producing prose and pictures that promote a client’s thought leadership and encourage audience engagement.

To get there, certain steps are taken, starting with having enough information to provide subject accuracy, language precision and the appropriate level of creativity. This is especially important for writers, since they start with a blank canvas. Graphic design and illustrations build upon the writers’ work, so getting the copy right is crucial to a project’s success.

Here’s what I do as the editorial director and/or lead writer on any given project:

1. Confer with key team members on a specific project to make sure everyone signs off on the objectives and I understand the technology, product or service being highlighted. I ask a lot of questions, if need be, to make doubly sure everyone’s on the same page. In my 30-plus years as a professional writer, I’ve learned the only stupid question is the one I failed to ask.
2. Gather online research using trusted sites and news feeds to better understand the marketplace and major players, as well as where the client currently fits in that industry. By the time I’m done, I’m closer to being subject-matter proficient.
3. Interview people. Once I have the broader picture, it’s time to drill down and talk to subject-matter experts. In this stage, timing and time management are important since people have crowded calendars. I try to be flexible with interviews to accommodate their schedules, which is why it’s not uncommon for me to be conducting phone interviews at 4 or 5 a.m. Pacific Time.
4. Take copious notes. I do a lot of mind mapping and brain dumping to help me process the wealth of information before me. Then I let it gestate before diving back in to produce a first draft. If it’s a complex or controversial issue, I’ll record the talk – with the source’s permission.
5. Tweak, and then tweak some more. Based on first-draft feedback, I revise copy until it’s ready for another viewing. It’s a good thing there are deadlines. Otherwise, I’d continue to curate content and manicure the messaging … for a long, long time.

Each of these steps is dependent on the other, and failing to come through on one stage will compromise the remainder. For instance, if I don’t gather enough good information through research, I likely won’t ask enough of the right questions to produce an excellent white paper or magazine article. And if I don’t ask the right questions, I won’t have great notes from which to write what I hope is amazing prose.

So when you choose a company to help you create custom content, be aware that every writer should, at a minimum, be an excellent researcher, interviewer and note-taker. This is how the best in the business stand out from all those copycats.