Confession: I flunked out of dance class. I do not arabesque. I cannot pirouette. I have cleared my closet of tutus. So, when someone hands me draft copy and says, “We need to jazz this up,” I often have a PTSD-like reaction: No sequins! No step-ball-change! No jazz hands! Of course, when someone asks you to jazz up PR or marketing content, they aren’t talking about choreography. Often, they don’t know exactly what they’re talking about. They just know that the words they’re looking at aren’t giving them that wow feeling. So, what can you do with a nonspecific request like “jazz it up,” other than reach for your dance shoes? Here are some options: 1. Consider the strategic goal. Jazziness is not a strategic business goal. Is the goal of this piece of content and the overall content strategy to attract investors? To expand the customer base? Something else? Make sure you know what the “something else” is before you focus on the jazz. 2. Understand your audience. Whom are you courting? Do you understand what wows them? Some people think jazz is Kenny G. Other people (cooler people) think jazz is John Coltrane. If you don’t know your audience, you don’t know what kind of sound will get them dancing. 3. Find a jazzy model. If you’re talking to a person who can’t define what he wants beyond “jazz,” ask him to point to something similar that he likes. Ask for a couple of examples so you get a better sense of the language, flow, and voice he’s hoping to get. 4. Evaluate the keywords. Jazz is not effective if no one ever finds it. What keywords should you include in order to help readers find your content? Are those keywords in your headline? Are they in your meta description? Are they in your tags? Make sure the keywords are organically worked into your (jazzed-up) content. 5. Write three headlines, and then delete two. Play with a few variations, but don’t sink a bunch of time into full-blown drafts before you get some feedback from stakeholders. Based on the feedback you get, dump two versions. Hopefully, you’ll have one left that starts to build that super awesome jazzy wow feeling. 6. Loosen up. “Jazz it up” is often a euphemism for “loosen up.” Evaluate your language. Is it unnecessarily stilted? (Is “unnecessarily stilted” an unnecessarily stilted phrase? Hmm.) 7. Tell a consistent story in a consistent voice. Once you get your hands around that sequin-studded language, hang on to it. Stay consistent so you don’t confuse your audience, and make sure that the style you’ve created serves your story and your strategic goal.
8. Take a step back. You might be holding the jazziest, hippest, coolest content ever, but if you’ve been staring at it for four hours, you might not see how amazing it is. Take a break. Take a walk. Take a step back, and then judge it again. 9. Ask whether a lack of jazz is the real problem. Is your audience responding to the content? Is all that jazz prompting comments? Is it encouraging visitors to download your white paper or answer some other call to action? If not, it’s time to ask harder questions, including whether you’ve focused too much on style and not enough on substance. So, Kenny G or John Coltrane? Tell the truth (or ask a question about how to jazz up dry content). Rebecca Joyner is the director of content services at Metis Communications, a marketing and PR firm that loves entrepreneurs, startups and great ideas. At Metis, Rebecca drives content creation efforts to help clients get found online and establish themselves as voices of authority in their industries. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccamjoyner. (Image via)