Last Thursday, editors gathered at The Pilot in Yorkville for drinks and discussion about a much-loved editorial past-time: writing great display. If you missed the event, here are some of the highlights. We hope to see you at the next mixer! And if you can’t make it, you can always follow along on Twitter because we live-Tweet our events!
Writing print display for the pun of it
Patrick Walsh, editor-in-chief of Outdoor Canada, kicked things off with his advice on how to write engaging display for print. Walsh’s overarching rule—to have fun with your display—was evident in his ideas for headline inspiration. Some of his best and brightest heds have come from pop culture references, plays on words and alliteration. Walsh thinks even coming up with those ideas should be a fun process: Involve your team in brainstorming. But don’t forget that whatever copy you choose should work with the art, fit with the tone of the piece and be original (so avoid those clichés). And even Walsh admits that sometimes, being straightforward or using a line from the story is most effective for enticing readers to dig into an article.
A picture’s worth 1,000 shares
Next, David Topping, the executive online editor of TorontoLife.com, spoke about the newest form of display: social media copy. Tweets and Facebook posts have become some of the key ways to get eyeballs on your content. Good social media display should reflect the voice of the brand, says Topping, who explained the Toronto Life authoritative tone, but it also needs to be conversational, since social media is meant to be just that: social. When putting together a post, Topping says some of the top priorities are a good photo, the right timing and reposting to catch users who didn’t have a chance to be captivated by your display the first time around.
Hard-working heds for the web
Finally, Simone Castello, CanadianLiving.com’s life and relationships web editor, took the stage to apologize to all the print editors for taking the fun out of their copy. The web, she explained, requires literal and instinctual display. Think to yourself: What would I type into a search bar if I were looking for information on this topic? You’re writing to make content accessible by search, so a little SEO (like strategically placed keywords in the hed, dek and first paragraph) will go a long way. Castello explained how to use tools such as Google Trends and Google AdWords to find keywords that give your content an edge, or even how to use Google itself to get into the brains of web users. And don’t stop at headlines: Create display throughout, by adding bolded subheads and links to phrases in order to increase your opportunities to draw readers in and to engage them with other content on your site.
Happy display writing!
By Jill Buchner, CSME board member