Saturday, April 25, 2009

How to write an article in 5 minutes flat

As I've mentioned before, I write lots of newsletters. Which means I write lots of articles. I thought I would share my proven method with you, but you have to promise:

1. Not to deviate from my system.

and 2. Not to tell my clients that my job is so easy a trained monkey could do it. Though I doubt that their punctuation would be as good as mine.

Ok. If you are still reading, I will take that as agreement. So here we go.

Step one: Read the assignment carefully. Here is a creative brief from an actual client: "Need a 500 word article on back to school."

Step two: Try to figure out what the client means. In this case, the client was a financial institution. So I figured I would talk about back-to-school loans, credit cards, saving money on school supplies, that kind of thing.

Step three: Do some research. Look at the client's website for information on relevant products and services. Google "popular school supplies" and discover that there is a new iPod Shuffle that all the kids are talking about. Go to the iPod website for pricing information, download 25 free apps for your iPhone, spend 6 hours playing Super Monkey Ball, and call it a night.

Step four: Wait until 5 minutes before the article is due. Then sit down with your laptop and follow my method.

30 seconds - Write a headline.
30 seconds - Write some subheads to organize your information.
3 1/2 minutes - Pretend you are the world's leading expert on "back to school." Write off the top of your head, as if you were telling a friend how the wonderful products and services at XYZ Financial can help them save time and money. Wrap it up at the end with a simple call to action.
30 seconds - Proofread.

Now for the fun part. Send your first draft to the client and watch the accolades pour in:

"Sorry. We have changed our minds. Please send 500 word article on auto loans."

30 seconds - Stare at computer screen.
30 seconds - Bang head against wall.
3 1/2 minutes - Count to ten until breathing becomes slow and regular.
30 seconds - Rummage in pantry for Little Debbie Zebra Cakes.

Go back to Step 1 and become the world's leading expert on auto loans.

Anybody know of a trained monkey I could borrow?



Fran Hill said...

Boy, this all sounds very frustrating! I do have a trained monkey, as a matter of fact, but he can only write about bananas, strange mating rituals and jungle life. Let me know if you get any briefs of that kind.

Lesley said...

Can your trained monkey make coffee? I might be able to make room for him on my staff.


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