Once Upon A Time There Were The 5 W’s

Posted By Alix Cochran In Digital Strategy 08/18/2014
5 w's, how to write an article, how to tell a story

With the new buzz of Content Marketing, Marketers are focused on strategizing how to push content out the door to drive thought leadership and increase brand awareness. It’s good to have a healthy editorial schedule, but some Marketers aren’t seeing the results they want. The problem I am seeing, are the pieces being published don’t have a clear story.  No one wants to share, let alone be told a story that doesn’t have a message.

Let’s go back to elementary school. Do you remember in English class when you would spend countless hours on brainstorming exercises that seemed pointless for a 5 paragraph story? Well turns out, those exercises weren’t so pointless after all.    

The brainstorming process is the most essential part of the whole story telling process. Gathering information and outlining ideas before you get started, will help your brain get in gear and stay on track as you write. It’s time to go back to the basics of telling a good, clear story by looking at The Five W’s: Who, Why, What, When, and Where (I reordered the W’s to tell a better story).

Who
Who is your target audience? Defining and understanding your reader first is key to optimizing content. This will help you customize your message, tone, and the language you use.  

Why
Why are you writing this piece? Make sure the piece is relevant and covers a topic that is of interest to the reader.  Ask questions like: How can this piece improve and benefit the reader’s life? Identifying their day-to-day concerns, then demonstrate empathy and understanding. This will increase engagement. People interact with topics that they can relate to in a personal way.

What
What are the goals of your piece? What is the the message you are trying to tell? What are the major takeaways you want the reader to get from the piece? Make a list of all the answers to these questions. You will start to see recurring key points or overarching topics that can be bundled together and help build the structure of your piece.

When
When is your piece scheduled to be published? The creative process is different for everyone. Some people work better under pressure, other’s need a slow marination of ideas. Either way, it is important to establish deadlines and timeframes so expectations are set for all parties involved.

Where
Where are you pushing this publication out to or hoping for it to get picked up by? If you are hoping for your content to get picked up by a specific platform, make sure you are aware of their specific style guidelines and keep them in mind as you are writing.

Engaging your target audience requires you to create quality content that tells a clear story. So spend some time brainstorming before you start writing away! respond.

*Alix Cochran is DOOR3’s Digital Marketing Manager. We want to hear from you! What ‘W’ do you think is the most important when brainstorming?

Image courtesy of iGlobal Academy

Comments

Great article. So practical and simple.

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