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Content Writing Lessons from a Political Exile

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3 min read

Taking some tips from a political expat may seem downright silly to most. What in the world can these crazy people have to offer to content writers, especially those who are writing for email marketing?

Just like we learned from Mad Men's Don Draper about the process of writing, with tips straight from a political exile, you'll learn the ramifications of not writing well and not writing at all.

There are times in any professional career where we just have to buckle down and just get after it, and these very special times is where the expat lessons come in.

Some of these lessons may seem a bit harsh, but honestly, they'll make you a better content writer.

1. If you don't produce, you're out

You're fired. Finito. Finished. There were legions of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, freshly minted Ivy Leaguers with Daddies with deep pockets and connections that were salivating at the thought of your imminent and expected demise. Remember, the best and brightest will do your job faster and for half the pay, every time. These children, sorry upstarts, understand something that an entrenched political staff takes for granted: they'll work for peanuts, to the bone and produce winning content.

So, what to do?

Work like an eager, hungry, newly graduated political science major. Work like there's no tomorrow. Work as if you're life, as you know it, depends on it.

And, what happens? You'll be absolutely astounded at the work you'll create.

2. There's such a thing as a deadline

So, there are deadlines, and there are deadlines. The former are deadlines that are kind of squishy, where there's a loose due date but no real-life consequences if you run a bit late. Then, there's the former: those are hard and fast deadlines, and if you don't meet it not only are you out, some other pundit is stealing your thunder and coveted media coverage.

You have to remember that with politics, if you're not out there first, then you're nothing. Whatever you do after the story breaks is wasted time and words.

In politics, there's no "I'll get it done after lunch," or "I'll do it in the morning."

Working around an honest to goodness deadline makes you more efficient with your time as well as ensuring that what you write is clean, simple and most importantly, direct.

Even online, you run into the same sort of deadline challenge – if you were to comment on a late-breaking issue, there's no room for you to dawdle. If you're not out there first (or among the first), then anything you do after which is, well, useless.

This is a perfect tip for online marketers in the email and SMS marketing business. Since the mode of communication you have with your customers is instant, then it behooves you to treat it as such. Twitter is possibly the greatest example of marketing in motion: as things are happening, people are commenting and reacting to it.

3. I don't care what you have to say, just say it in a page or less

You'd think with the nonsense and bureaucracy surrounding any form of government, you'd be laden down with paper. Actually, that's not true.

This little tip isn't just from the political world – some of the brightest minds use this tactic in their Fortune 500 companies and start-ups.

If you can say it in a page, with typical margins and font size (no fudging, this isn't college), then you're over thinking it or you don't understand what you're writing about.

It's a grave misconception that many marketers have is that more is better, especially more words, more explanation, more content. Not true.

Think about it: most politicians have an attention span of a 2-year-old and don't have the focus to sit and read a 10-page sales piece. No, they want the gist of it. And, they'd prefer it in neat little sound bytes or talking points, thank you very much.

Anytime you're crafting a sales piece, email newsletter or blog, take your finished product and distill it down into your main points. Anything that needs further explanation, fine, keep it, but cut out the rest.

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