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Content is King, but not without a little feedback

Inkwell and Pen

On a rotating basis, the Webfor crew is tasked with writing a blog post. The account managers talk about how they help clients, the SEO folks discuss SEO folks stuff, and the web design team talks about whatever they do. Writing doesn’t necessarily come easy to them, but they do an admirable job with complex ideas. I learn something new after each blog gets published.

Discussing content creation is a little bit different. At some point, everyone has written something: a grade school theme, junior high school book report, or even a graduate thesis. There aren’t many middle school students performing SEO audits or constructing low-fidelity comps. But writing? It’s what separates us from the animals.

Which is great! The feedback I receive from a client only serves to help drive the content forward, especially if it’s a particular niche or complex market. I appreciate a helpful explanation of a specific point or if certain words or phrases need to be avoided for legal reasons or in order to appeal to a wider audience.

Those cues are helpful for writing more focused content about what our clients want to convey to their audience. Which isn’t to say all feedback is constructive when it comes to writing. I’m reminded of a time when I worked as a sports clerk at the local newspaper of record…

A Dark and Stormy Night

High school stadium lights at night‘Twas a cool Friday night, one of those Pacific Northwest autumn numbers that called for shorts during the day and fleece during the dewy night. I bought a program and a soda and took my spot in the stadium press box. Over the next few hours, I charted each play, meticulously marking yards gained, passes caught, and touchdowns scored. It was a rivalry game, hard-fought to the very end.

After talking to both coaches and a few key players, I headed back to the office to write the story. I then chased down any missing scores (including high school soccer, cross country, or golf) and left around midnight — a job well done. Or so I thought.

At the time, we didn’t have a Saturday paper, so I was able to enjoy my day in peace. The same couldn’t be said about Sunday morning. I woke to seven or eight messages on the answering machine (that’s how long ago it was!) and later found 20 voicemails at the office. Every Greenwood in the book received a call that day, even my saintly grandmother. Every single caller was looking to tell me they could do a better job writing than I could.

And on this occasion, they were right. In the lede of the story, I had the wrong team winning the game. The score was correct, I just switched the teams. It affected the headline, subhead, and any photo cutlines that were written.

Which made the rest of the story really, really confusing. One high school athletic director in the area let me know he grounded his daughter after reading the story because his daughter — who was supposedly at the game — said the wrong team won.

We laughed about that. Well, he laughed more than I did. I called both coaches (the real losing coach said he didn’t mind the story at all), the athletic directors involved, and anyone who left their number for a call back. Thankfully, none did — they just wanted to tear me down and rip me up. They had every right to do so.

Thank goodness the internet wasn’t around. Geez. I can’t even imagine.

So no, I don’t mind a little feedback from our clients. In fact, it helps me become a better writer for them. I learn more, produce better content, and earn their trust as someone who understands what they want the world to know about them.

And they won’t call me early Sunday morning demanding my head.

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