Regardless of the changes in technology, the market for well-crafted messages will always have an audience. — Steve Burnett
The Burnett Group
Strategy and project management
My clients do not necessarily pay me to think through the bigger picture. But I always do it anyway.
I "grew up" in public relations, a business that artfully employs big picture thinking – based in research, driven by planning, and given tactical legs in copy/content, execution and post-campaign analysis. Consequently, it's very much my habit to think through the business equation on everything I do.
The benefit to clients is the copy usually hits the nail on the head in a first draft. It's always technically correct, but just as important it speaks the language of the company. It will be respected by peers and it will compel clients and customers to act.
When working with other service providers, I ensure the strategy is maintained consistently throughout all components of the program. Because it has to.
Why? All the clever copy in the world is worth nothing if not strategic.
Here are a few examples of work where the communications strategy was essential to the project:
Feature length content
Some stories have a lot of detail. And some businesses are exploding with so much innovation and change that long-form copy – articles, white papers, e-books, hardcopy books – is required to communicate it effectively.
One such topic is sustainability. We are in a period of significant and meaningful change for the better, as all kinds of businesses are doing what they can to lessen their impact on the environment. What architects, builders, developers, manufacturers and others do to reduce their use of energy and other resources takes some explaining. The technical details matter – and can be fascinating. See links below to the articles I write for Green Building & Design magazine to see how that takes form.
I'm also keenly interested in human health and wellbeing. As an author*, I worked with a technical expert (registered dietitian Deanna Conte) to develop a 70,000-word treatise on how to improve one's nutrition with unprocessed and long-shelf life foods. As a marketing content creator, I was able to expand upon that with articles on exercise, behavioral practices and alternative health therapies.
Here are some samples of my feature-length work:
The following are links to my articles in these magazines:
Fitness, nutrition and health
Blog and website copy
Who knew that evolving content could mean so much? We once thought our words should be cut in stone, but today it is pixels on a screen that people want to read.
It's about more than just currency. New content on a website is a signal to search engines -- Google, Bing, Yahoo and others -- that the site is alive. Search-users are most often directed to those sites where the freshest information is presented. Other factors are involved, including SEO tactics, but the algorithms continue to honor the axiom that "content is king."
Blog copy also provides a valuable education function. For example, I write a great deal of copy for law firms (clients: Martindale-Hubbell and The Law Offices of David Drexler/Los Angeles). The laws change and lawyers need to pre-qualify clients – particularly those in consumer/plaintiff law practice – which blogs can accomplish quite well.
As a blog writer, I am required to learn a lot about my clients' work and industries before I write. That's OK. I love research – and how new information provides new solutions for just about everything.
It's noisy out there. Have a smart conversation with the right people.
Every organization has a vast constellation of potential friends. They need quick access to information about you – at their convenience.
That universal, on-demand mentality means you have to be in the game 24/7. Your information, delivered passively or actively, has to be found easily – if you miss that opportunity, someone else will capture their eyes, beliefs and dollars.
As an editor, Russ’s professionalism and fluid writing were a continual joy to me — he was always ready to pitch creative, thoughtful ideas that fit the brand of our site; his articles were well written and expertly sourced; he was deft at matching our site’s voice and mission; and he delivered his precise, thoroughly edited writing on time, every time — an editor’s dream. – Lisa Regan, ReganWriting.com
As the chief contributor to Pothole.info – where we cover all news relating to road maintenance – I sometimes am called upon by traditional media to answer questions on the state of pavement in America.
Here is one such interview with Fox TV Memphis in early May 2014. This was on the heels of a very harsh winter in the eastern half of the U.S., where municipalities have struggled to repair cracks and holes.
Russ and his team worked with me at Prevent Blindness America to create a centennial commenorative book highlighting the organization's commitment to saving sight for 100 years. The book was nothing short of fantastic and was still talked about a year later. – Dan Garrett, former executive director of Prevent Blindness America and now executive director at Iowa Chiropractic Society
Sometimes a client will need to provide detailed instructions through an e-book or hardcopy publication.
For Prevent Blindness America, I guided the client through the concept, the copy and the design process to an effective outcome. Rather than a simple retelling of the organization's history, we positioned their achievements within a broader social-historical context. (Copies of the book are available on request)
For Restaurant.com, we developed an e-book primer on digital marketing for independent restaurants (their primary business partners).