Spencer Critchley's blog

Creating Content Driving You Crazy? Here’s How to Write Both Fast and Well (Pt 1)

Stressed-out woman on couch with laptop

(Also published at Huffington Post.) Compared to our pre-digital forebears, we're expected to produce torrents of writing: emails, text messages, blog posts, social media, presentations.

That's because publishing all that stuff is easier than ever. The trouble is, the actual writing isn't -- especially if you care about quality.

"Easy reading is damn hard writing," as Nathaniel Hawthorne said.

So how to write both fast and well?

How to get a designer's best work for a logo, website, ad - anything

Wrench

A long time ago, I had to learn from scratch how to manage visual designers, after having started out as a composer and audio producer, with no training in graphic arts -- back then I thought of it as "the blind leading the deaf."

Luckily, I found that most of the skills I'd developed while working with sound carried over to other disciplines, too. There's one skill above all that I believe managers need to master in order to get the best work from a designer or any creative professional:

Talk about why, not how.

Leadership Lessons from Obama for America's COO

Spencer Critchley

Last week I was in Washington, DC for a couple of days, connecting with old political friends -- and one new one. The new one turned out to have some very interesting things to say about leadership, from a unique perspective: playing a key role in assembling Barack Obama's first presidential campaign (this is not to say that the old friends weren't very interesting, too).

While Henry DeSio was serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Obama For America 2008, I was on the ground working on communications teams in battleground states. I never met him back then, but I'm glad I have now. He's working on a book about his experiences, and the lessons that can be drawn from them.

How Nonprofits Can Succeed with Content Marketing

For a recent article in Nonprofit Communications Report, I was asked by writer Dawn Wolfe for 3 keys to successful content marketing for nonprofits.

I thought it would be worth sharing them here, via excerpts from the piece (a subscription is required to view the full article online).

What is content marketing? It's self-published content that is genuinely useful and/or entertaining, which you us to attract people to your website and socal media presences. It's a core part of inbound marketing.

My 3 keys? Brand, persona and focus.

Great, up to date advice for raising money with social media & the web

Spencer Critchley

By now, just about every nonprofit of any size seems to be using the web, email and social media. And yet many are behind the curve on using online tools effectively.

In particular, we find that many nonprofits use email as if it's just a digital version of a paper newsletter, and the web and social media as if they're just digital bulletin boards.

But in working with any medium -- the web, TV, radio, newspapers or, reaching way back, fax -- it's always been important to understand it for its own strengths, not in terms of whatever came before it.

Empathy: The overlooked key to nonprofit marketing

Don't Mess With Texas PSA

It's an occupational hazard of the nonprofit world to know too much about the problems you're trying to solve. When you're an expert, facts have great resonance for you.

Why is this a hazard? Because when you're trying to reach people, facts are not much use. Then, you need to know not facts, but feelings. That's because it's emotions, not information, that drive our beliefs and behaviors.

So, for a nonprofit communicator, it's critically important to practice the skill of imagining how the world looks to the person you're trying to connect with: to be empathic.

Be a Better Writer in 1 Step: Forget Everything You Learned in College

Spencer Critchley

How did "academic" become synonymous with "irrelevant?" Wouldn't it be a good idea if our smartest, best-informed people played a more active role in society? And yet, as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes in a recent piece, "Ph.D. programs have fostered a culture that glorifies arcane unintelligibility while disdaining impact and audience."

When I'm consulting with clients on anything to do with writing, I spend a lot of time undoing the results of a college education. Call me a philistine, but I believe communication should communicate.

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