Writing for page views: Tips from Steve Rubel


As a young copy editor working for New Delhi-based Patriot two decades ago, I never imagined a day when machines would take over the unique powers of a copy editor. We ruled over reporters, decided content and our headlines woke readers up every morning.

Fast forward twenty years- journalists write for machines that give overrides to word choices and remind them that some words get better page views. These translate into  greater job security and a better bottomline.  Machines select  headlines, insert slugs and feed searches that attract readers. Writers are told to use the word fashion instead of style as search engines rank fashion higher.

Amid this changing media landscape, hearing  Steve Rubel last week was refreshing. Rubel is EVP, Global Strategy for Edelman, the world’s largest independent PR company. He was speaking at my alma mater, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications.

According to Rubel, thankfully, three things still exist:

  1. Our time and attention are finite
  2. We love good stories- stories bind us as a culture
  3. Content is king

Rubel introduced Edelman’s new concept named “Transmedia Storytelling: The Media Cloverleaf” that will help PR practitioners keep stories alive for a longer time.  This is an inter-connected model that involves traditional media, hybrid, social media and company-owned media. According to Rubel, it is now an Anglo model being used in the U.S. and some parts of Europe. However,  some of its concepts are applicable in other geographies too. 

Rubel asks practitioners to create content that is visual and worth sharing and video, infographics and slideshows are very important. Writing needs a lot of advanced planning these days. So, before crafting a story, find out how, where and when the story should be told. Here’s a PowerPoint that describes key points from Rubel’s talk.

Charities should care about mobile marketing


Charities should act fast and raise money through mobile marketing. According to Devin Anderson, mobile advertising executive at Google, people will buy more mobile devices than desktops as early as 2013. This holiday, “more people will walk out with a mobile device than a notebook,” he said.

Searches using mobile devices are increasing eight times faster than those  from a personal computer. Anderson suggested the following tips at a meeting organized recently by  AZIMA:

  1.  Mobilize your Web presence: A mobile presence is the newest storefront. Web retailers using mobile storefronts are reporting an 85% surge in consumer engagement.
  2. Set up mobile specific campaigns: Mobile specific campaigns yield higher click through rates. Keep consistent messages.
  3. Think local: One in three mobile searches is local. Nearly 61% called businesses from mobile sites. Google predicts 44% of last-minute searches and store locator terms to come from mobile devices this holiday season.
  4. Use mobile unique ad formats: Drive local and in-store traffic using mobile only ad formats.
  5. Users care about mobile sites: Impatient users will punish poorly designed mobile sites. 61% are unlikely to return if they had trouble, 40% will visit a competitor’s site while 19% will navigate away from the site.
  6. Track and optimize mobile presence

How does this relate to fundraising? Prospects will donate to their favorite causes from their palms. Good charities that design content for thumbs, not mice will thrive. Simple layouts that highlight  impact will attract prospects. Those who don’t will raise less money.