Writing Business News

Handshake 2.0 is a business news, public relations, and business development site showcasing those in the know, those known, and those who want to be known. Handshake 2.0's primary audience is those who lead companies – through position or initiative, from founders and CEOs, to agents, assistants, partners, vendors, evangelists and investors. Our content assists decision-makers.

According to Google Analytics, in the past year Handshake 2.0 had 35,000 visits from over 150 countries and territories. That's a diverse group of decision-makers!

Handshake 2.0 is common ground for all that diversity, however.

Here's what we’ve found best engages Handshake 2.0's audience – and gets read the most, shared the most, and the best results from search engines:

  • A story, article or essay – not a press release or pitch – that offers its value in fewer than 300 words or in an image or video.
  • Content that both interests the mind and relates to human emotion.
  • Specific details rather than generalizations or abstractions.
  • Links to 2-3 sources that support and corroborate points the writer makes.
  • An image to accompany the text of the post that illustrates or symbolizes the content.

Anatomy of a Blog Post - Handshake Media, IncorporatedIf you want the full story, here are the characteristics of an ideal Handshake 2.0 blog post – an explanation, infographic, slide presentation, links to more pages and sources, the works.

First person, second person, third person?

To connect with a reader using social media – from a blog post, to a Facebook update, to a Twitter tweet – the first person "I" is highly preferred. Social media is social – if I show up, you're more likely to show up! Reach-wise, it's crucial. People are much more likely to share a personal story or a personal experience piece in their networks than an information piece.

Some people are much more comfortable – and feel naturally more confident – sharing what they know rather than who they are. But here's the fundamental concept of using social media for business: People do deals with people, not with what people know. The more writers can blend who they are with what they know, the more likely they are to connect with readers both personally and professionally.

Consider avoiding addressing the reader in second person as "you." Readers often perceive this as a finger-wagging "you should" which feels parental rather than collegial and increases the distance the reader keeps from the writer.

A word about a series of posts

Since posts, .pdfs, and files of any kind are accessed online through search engines and other means one at a time, one can create a series of posts, but readers click away pretty much immediately when they read an announcement that it's a series of posts because they want fast info. When they learn they have to read a whole series to get what they want, they leave.

The workaround is to write a series of posts, but to create each one as a stand-alone post. Philosophically, the writer knows he or she is writing a series of posts in a sustained narrative, but gives readers the one-of-a-kind, stand-alone experience they seek. For our clients and client columnists, we put a link like this at the bottom of each post in the series:

Read more from Your Name on Handshake 2.0.

"Your Name on Handshake 2.0" will link to your column:

http://www.handshake20.com/your-name

That's how readers can access the series.

Each title in the series can be in this format: "Series Subject: Topic of the Post." This invites Google to appreciate your posts for the keywords for both your series and your posts. A viewer who likes what you say and how you say it can then click on your column for more.

Finally, from four years of operating one blog and three years of operating Handshake 2.0, I offer these points about writing business news online, first posted here:

  1. People search for solutions to problems. 9 of these top 10 posts offer solutions or answer questions.
  2. If the problem is persistent, the traffic to a problem-solving post will be persistent. 5 out of these 10 posts were written prior to this year – even prior to last year! They are "evergreen content" – of on-going service to others.
  3. A picture can be worth a thousand words – or a thousand hits. 2 out of the 10 posts use "show, don't tell" to communicate their messages: they contain explanatory images and infographics.
Who's in FRONT? Z. Kelly Queijo
Handshake Media's Services for the VT KnowledgeWorks Alliance

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