Things You Already Knew But Didn’t Know You Knew
Something I’ve talked about before (and which I suspect might be in the thoughts of my employment-conscious classmates) is the need for an engaging writing style. Linda W. Cohen has brought this up as well, and I think it’s a great point.
Have you stopped to think about how everything we do on the internet is a form of reading? We’re reading all the time here, and a lot of us don’t stop to think about it. Now, granted, not everything we read is 100% verified fact, and occasionally, we’re lucky just to get something that’s 100% properly spelled and punctuated. Point is: all this information we’re reading? Someone’s writing it.
I’ll slow it down so those of you without a science background can keep up.
We have the internet: lots of people are reading, lots of people are writing, and much like daily real-life interactions, we’re choosing to follow the work of people we like, people we relate to, people who can interest us. “Engaging writing style” is a highly personal thing; what works for someone won’t work for someone else. If you thought my “I’ll slow it down…” line was condescending and at all serious, well, you missed the tongue-in-cheek tone I was going for. That’s fine. It just means the writing style I’m using on this blog is not your thing. On a blog like this, I love sarcasm and a mildly informal tone.
Different strokes for different folks.
In P.R. writing, this is why knowing your audience comes in handy. I think Hyperbole & a Half is hilarious. My roommate (who is in a different demographic than I am) thinks its stories are horrible and doesn’t understand why Allie Brosh’s parents didn’t punish her more. On the other hand, there was this novel where a character rolled on the ground with laughter, and I scoffed at the joke.
Roommate: What was the joke?
Me: Oh, it’s that sort of thing that you’ll see on a mug or a novelty shirt, but you won’t actually laugh at it, just say, “Heh. That’s funny.” It’s definitely not the “dark, edgy humor” the author made her character describe it as. It’s more like “crazy cat lady” humor.
Roommate: Okay, okay, but what was the joke?
Me: Ahem. “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.”
Roommate: *waits for the rest*
Me: “Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” See? It’s awf—
Roommate: *cracks up*
Me: *blank stare*
Roommate: *cannot stop laughing*
Me: *…vaguely horrified*
Roommate: *I wish I was making this up, but at that point, she was still laughing and clutching her stomach*
I mean, my world was blown. A real live human actually thought that joke was not just clever, but literally roll-around-clutching-your-stomach-with-laughter-funny. Maybe I’d just had a really great delivery. I mean, I did pause for dramatic effect, right?
But no, different people like different things. It’s a simple concept, but easy to overlook, and to be successful when writing for an audience, you have to really know what your audience likes.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
I like comics, but I don’t follow a lot of comics blogs because ultimately, the writing style bores me and despite my love for comics, I’m not willing to sit through posts that read as dry and uninteresting to me. But the Archie Comics Blog has me pegged. They know that I like solemn quotes attached to silly panels taken out of context, they know I love their analysis of what the heck’s going on, and they know I love when they get excited about what the company’s doing next. I have bought a lot more Archie Comics in the past couple of years than I would’ve otherwise, and I have the Archie Comics Blog to blame.
Let’s face it, there’s nothing nicer than a place where they know you, right? You feel comfortable, at ease, and you end up coming back time after time. Now, look at the flip side, pretend you’re the one providing that comfort and ease, the one who has people coming back to you, eager to see what you have to say.
Think of how valuable that is from a P.R. point of view.