Question: I created one child for print, and another for the web

Question: I created one child for print, and another for the web
Is there a difference? Can you tell the difference?


The child created for the web is a lot shorter and much more active.

Join the conversation


Writing for new media is different

Writing for new media and the web has unique payoffs and pitfalls. Using them will help us write copy that appears before more readers and holds their attention longer. Let's share our tips for writing copy that will spark interest, maintain reader involvement, and place highly in search results.

Let's also discuss non-copy elements - widgets, RSS feeds, polls, imbedded video, photos, and killer graphics - that we use to engage the reader. We need every trick: readers are just one click away from other compelling articles and videos...and they know it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Set up a forum for customers

Ok, ok, not as grand as the Forum Romanum but you get the idea. Set up a blog where customers can air and exchange views on your brand. In pharmaceuticals, that could be a patient forum, a physician forum, or a combined forum (could be interesting). For pharma, comments would have to be moderated for regulatory reasons. You will find out more from your forums than any customer survey: users will tell you what they really feel and what they need. Forums will also help youo keep aware of what the hot topics are in your market. This is your opportunity to listen, gather information, and plan tactics accordingly. Forums are an underused resource – for traffic, leads, customer insights, new product announcements, criticisms, and product improvements. Most importantly, they provide your brand advocates a platform to convert others by their testimonials.

3 ways social media can help your pharmaceutical brand

1) Find and fix weakness – Do patients have trouble with side effects? Is paying for the drug the major issue? Do patients find it hard to access side-effect management programs or drug access programs you have already set up? Are physicians aware of all these programs? Monitor "mentions" on Twitter to hear and help out with these issues. Set up a Google Alert on your company name to find where your client/company/brand has been mentioned nearly anywhere on the web. By using a dedicated social media monitoring tool, you can find tweets, blogs, and forums mentioning the company or brand. Use this information to engage and become part of the solution.

2) Create brand advocates - Listening to the conversation about your brand will give you a chance to comment, not only correcting negative feedback but also adding additional benefits the user may not already know about. This bolsters enthusiasm for the brand. Demonstrating that you bothered to read their comments and care about their opinions helps create brand advocates.

3) Deliver product assistance - Social media monitoring can help you deliver information on your company or brand exactly where –and when – it is needed. Monitoring social media conversations on Twitter or on blogs and forums allows you to help patients and physicians use your drug or contact your representatives. At the same time get a better picture of the needs of the marketplace.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How print writers can adapt to writing for digital media

Guest post by Greg Satell at Digital Tonto.
Writers are some of the most talented people I have had the pleasure of working with. However, most find it hard adapting to digital media. Many succeed and find that they enjoy new media; some never really get the hang of it, while others just accept the reality and plod through. Whatever a writer's particular inclination, here are some points that can help:

Change fonts: On paper, serif fonts like Times New Roman help the reader navigate through the text. However, in digital the audience is reading off a screen and the small details of serif fonts can be hard to read given limits of screen resolution. Therefore, use a sans-serif font (like Arial) even if it isn't what you're used to.

Cut up the text: On the internet, people scan more than they read. They avoid large blocks of text. Make paragraphs smaller and add frequent subheads to help the reader digest material at a quick pace. Print writers need to alter their style for new media.

Understand entry points: While most print writers understand entry points in print, (e.g., charts and sidebars), the concept takes on a whole new meaning in digital media. Printed matter is generally read from front to back, and the cover is always seen before the content. The internet is 3D: less than half of the audience ever sees the home page. People might get to your article through search engines, links from other sites, etc. The landing page could be anywhere, so every page is a potential entry point.

Understand the important relationships that your writing creates: While printed matter is a closed system, an internet document has relationships to other documents both locally and globally. An article can be much more important for what it leads the reader to than for what it actually says. There are a variety of ways you can take advantage of these new possibilities:

- Link to reference sources: On the internet, you can share your research as well as your ideas with your reader. Readers will appreciate your thoughts even more if you give them some insight into how you arrived at them.

- Create content clusters: Build a series of related content and reference resources and link them to your article. This lets you weave different aspects and thoughts on a subject into a single body of work. As an ancillary benefit, this also helps search engines find what you write.

- Write shorter articles: A very short article can be engaging and useful if it leads interested readers to other valuable content. A five-page feature wouldn't do well on the internet (people usually print them).

Get comfortable with interactivity: A few years ago, my wife and I found a sick two-week-old puppy in Tbilisi, Georgia. We fell in love with him, brought him home, and now treat him as part of the family. We even talk to him! It's great having him around, but I'm not sure how I would feel if one day he talked back.

On the internet, the dogs talk back (and some of them bite!). Print writers aren't used to being accessible to their audience. Some writers appreciate the feedback, but others find it jarring and hurtful. In either case, interactivity is here to stay so this is something that you're just going to have to get used to.

Extra reading:
5 Crucial Aspects of a Digital Media Transition
Double Readership with a Simple Tweak

Read Greg at Digital Tonto, his blog about Digital Business and more.

Monday, August 17, 2009

96% of new media writers agree

And here's a graph to prove it.

Agree with what? Who cares; I made you look.

Graphs, photos, videos, maps, interactive games, satellite photos; use them all to grab browsing readers and pull them in.

This is for you

That's it. The headline and graphic. My gifts to you.

The point is, readers came to your site for SOMETHING, so you'd better give them something -fast- or they're gone, faster than your last paycheck.

Deliver new media content up front. Make a promise in the headline and pay it off in the first sentance or two, or at least hook readers with the expectation that they will find something interesting soon. What reader need will you fill? If you can't fill a reader need, why are you blogging? If you just like to write, buy a diary.

It's not all about gimmicks. I'm actually a medical writer (like you care) and my articles can get long and complex. Still, I tell the reader up front what I'm going to deliver, and pay it off as quickly and clearly as possible. "Don't touch that's what you came for."

Did he just use a radio metaphor to describe writing for new media? And sneak two keywords into his last sentance?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Why learning new media is essential

This powerful video was created by Socialnomics09; check out their YouTube Channel at Much of the data can be found in Digital Marketing by Wertime and Fenwick, who cite the original sources. Quite simply, new media is more than the wave of the future; it's a tsunami, and it's happening right now. We will learn to use it well or become marginalized (and ultimately extinct) through digital Darwinism.

Viral marketing resource

Viral marketing (AKA buzz marketing) is the new media extention of word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing. WOM can make or break your brand more effectively than any other avenue. Download this informative PDF at

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New media strategy: brand storytelling

Stories can be compelling because they're personal, and new media is, above all, personal. Storytelling not only engages readers, it expresses your brand personality. A well-told story also resonates with readers, forging a bond and inviting readers to join the conversation with stories of their own. At its best, a good brand story can transition the prosumer from awareness to trial to advocacy.

Fishing for customer stories
Once people use your brand to describe their life (a Mac user, a Harley owner) they have brought the product into their personal story, and brand exposure will increase exponentially. This promotes viral marketing. My agency services the professional oncology/immunology community. Imagine if physicians started putting stories involving your brand on physician sites like New Media Medicine or Physician Connect at Medscape Oncology. The potential for patient testimonials or Q&A sites is obvious as well. Check out this article on brand storytelling with new media at

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Use the synergy of new media

Write articles and slide presentations giving away content on Linkedin, Facebook, and your blog to drive people to your web site and Twitter. Use Twitter to direct people to your YouTube video channel, Linkedin, and Facebook. Use your videos and slides to provide content and promote your brand while directing people to your blog and web site, Linkedin, and Facebook pages. Everything drives traffic to your web site, where you integrate the most marketable elements you have gleaned from your social media sites, and promote your brand. It's the wheel of life. Other specific sites will be appropriate depending on your product, client, and target audience.

Target your audience

Greg Satell offers the following words of wisdom in his new blog, especially appropriate for our oncology/immunology agency: "Narrow your target: Just because the internet allows you to reach the whole world, doesn’t mean you should actually try to do it. By highlighting a few communities you can not only focus the intensity of your marketing efforts, you can more quickly reach critical mass within those communities and promote word of mouth." Read him at:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New media: make the transition to digital media

There's a new blog about digital business that recently featured a post on becoming a digital agency. "One of the biggest challeges facing media companies today is how to transition from the 'offline world' to the Digital World. It can be an extremely difficult process, fraught with danger, overdevelopment and underperformance. Unfortunately, most legacy media companies find little success, despite big plans. What follows are five aspects that address the most common mistakes." Check out:

Double readership with a simple tweak

That’s it. You just read the tweak. Write a headline that grabs interest. Offer a benefit, almost too good to be true and pay it off with fast-paced copy. With new media, a visitor decides in milliseconds whether to read your copy or click away. The noise level on the web is astronomical; to get read, you have to hook the reader, and fast. Then deliver or die.

Writing blog comments cause cancer

At least, that belief must be prevalent judging from the paucity (nice word) of comments posted on this site. ENGAGEMENT is part of using new media, and it involves increasing your web presence by posting comments, among other things. Other things like using Twitter, posting on your own blog, and voting on Digg. Using new media involves listening as well as talking, and posting comments is one way you show you're listening. So make your presence known, and practice media interaction: leave a comment.

SEO copywriting (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO involves (among other things) writing using targeted keywords with an ideal keyword density, and links as an indication of quality and relevance. This link takes you to a site that, like so many, teaches a little and tries to sell you more. Learn what you can for free and move on. There's a lot here.

Another great tutorial on SEO:

Monday, August 10, 2009

If new media isn't taking you somewhere different, why are you using it?

Because you think you should?
Because the competition is doing it?
Because your boss asked you?
Bad reasons. Words on a page are only that, but new media offers video, audio, photos, hyperlinks, and interactivity. Don't jump off the cliff of print media unless you're willing to spread your wings. Fly a little. It's fun.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Unknown blogger arrested - faces years of editing clinical trials

The Grammar Police snapped the cuffs on me for my last post about breaking the formal rules of usage. As part of a community-service plea bargain, I concede their major points:

1) Know your audience, and use an appropriate voice (persona). If you're writing for investors, keep your sense of humor to yourself and follow strict conventions. An annual report is still an annual report, even if it's online. And "wacky" is rarely appropriate.

2) Adapt your style to the medium. While all are new media, blog writing is less formal and more personal than the company web site, and Twitter is practically shorthand, demanding an open style to achieve economy (144 characters).

3) Write well. You can break rules to express personality, but do so consciously; don't be careless. Our writing will hang on the net for a long time, telling readers about you and your company with words you may never be able to change.

This said, be human in your writing. Authenticity is the currency of new media.

Am I still fired?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Forbidden secrets of writing for new media

That’s a joke, right? Because the essence of new media is that it’s a conversation, and we all do (or should) know how to talk. No jargon, please. And don’t be afraid to start a sentence with a conjunction, or use a sentence fragment. Or two. Break a few rules to write like real people talk. Be interesting, engage the reader, and make your point in clear, direct language.

Then shut up and listen.