From the Cave to the Web: The Era of Strategic Writing

Since the beginning of language there has always been those good at expressing themselves; many of them probably became great writers. If you go back even further, someone in a cave with some talent was scrawling something on the wall that told a story.

Somehow, though, writers seem to have been the most underappreciated group within the realm of communications. Maybe not the great novelists or celebrity non-fiction authors, but just about every other writer could use a little love. Seinfeld was a hit show with a great ensemble cast, but the writing was really what made the show groundbreaking.

At the outset of my career, first as a political consultant and later as a partner in the advertising and public relations agency FitzGerald & Robbins, a press release, brochure copy, something pithy for a billboard or a thirty-second script for a television spot was the general range of creative writing for a client or project. Not any more.

Now, writers need to really think about the vehicle they are using to convey the words—particularly now in the digital age when these words appearing on your computer screen can be accessed anywhere around the world. Writing in the blogosphere, on a website or social media platform requires a different approach, in some ways an advanced form of writing.

For example, in writing this post, I am being mindful to include tags or “keywords” that might attract interest (see below). So, among the keywords in this piece are “writers,” “advertising,” and “public relations” that will percolate through Google or some other search engine and might entice a visitor—and, hence, an audience.

The same rules apply for those writing content (used to be called copy) for websites. The more keywords the better the chance of moving up the charts and attracting visitors.

This point hit home recently when a post for another blog that I author, the City2City Greater Springfield blog, had some keyword that attracted Tod Newcombe, author of the Urban Notebook blog at Governing Magazine. He stumbled upon the content in the City2City blog and wrote a story about how Springfield area leaders are visiting and learning from resurgent cities in the United States. Now, someone may stumble upon the Urban Notebook column from this posting.

What does this all mean? For the writers it means that yet another refinement in writing technique is required to attract the audience to their words.

So when writers are writing today, they need to do so more strategically. Writing has come a long way from those early scrawls on a wall in a cave.

Photograph of Paul Robbins
Paul Robbins

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