The value of content that stands the test of time is self-evident, but how do you best create it?
Talk trends, not events
If the hook for your article is a recent event in the news, think of it as part of a trend. For instance, Russia taking control in Crimea might easily inspire you to commission an article on the risks of investing in the Ukraine. The trouble is, by the time you have commissioned, received, edited, tweaked and published the story, President Putin could have marched across half of Europe and your new story will be stale.
The trick is context. What other risks do emerging markets present? For instance, in recent times Brazil has had currency problems, analysis of India suggests significant corruption, while shadow-banking looks to become a runaway problem in China. This all means that you can talk about remerging markets – Ukraine included – and remain relevant for a long time after you publish.
Keep your eye on the calendar
Be specific with dates. The words “Bob Diamond joined Barclays 18 years ago” will be wrong within at least 12 months. Opt instead for “Bob Diamond joined Barclays in 1996”. This is particularly useful if you’re writing copy that will sit on a site for a long time, such as staff biographies.
Choose your words wisely
The trap is talking about events in the past using terms such as ‘recent’, ‘last year’, which will age faster than you can say Dad’s Army. Similarly with the future: terms such as ‘next year’ and ‘soon’ similarly anchor your copy to a specific period. If you can’t avoid them, check you have a date stamp on your web page – your readers will at least appreciate knowing when the copy was posted.
Use proper quotes
A quote is a great way of introducing an article, but only if it is a ‘quote’. By all means refer to a classic wordsmith like Mark Twain or Oscar Wilde, whose joshing one-liners have defied the ageing process. But think again if you find yourself quoting last week’s X Factor winner.
In between the sublime and the ridiculous, however, there is a tricky area where you will need to use your judgment. For instance, ECB President Mario Draghi’s words on doing ‘whatever it takes’ to save the euro is a quote with a longer half-life than his more obscure thoughts on the growth of tier-1 assets among EC banks.
Do your research
If you want to present data to back up your arguments, refer to the consensus. By relying on one piece of recent research, you run the risk of being contradicted later down the line – or even presenting a skewed picture. Refer instead to a body of research and suggest what the community thinks; you’ll give a fairer picture, and if a new piece of well-publicised research contradicts you, your article won’t become redundant.
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