June 23, 2022


by William Turner in News, White Papers
Writing and storytelling are two of the most powerful ways to put ideas into the world. As written communication skills decay around us, both skills have also become competitive advantages.  This observation is the basis for Red Havas’ newest whitepaper, “Content That Cuts Through.” It explores how to write content that modern audiences can’t help but read.
We’ve also devoted the June episode of the “Red Sky Fuel for Thought” podcast to the subject of writing.

LISTEN TO THE June Episode of “Red Sky FueL For Thought”

In this month’s episode, Red Havas’ Vice President of Content Ellen Mallernee Barnes, who authored the whitepaper, is joined by Sadie Dean and Jeanne Veillette Bowerman. The accomplished writers frequently speak and write about the craft of writing — screenwriting in particular. They also cohost the “Reckless Creatives” podcast. Together, our guests discuss the craft of writing.


“There are a lot of tools and AI services now that are hindering the real written word and killing the essence of a really good writer,” says Sadie, who is also editor of Script Magazine. “Good writing is about clear messaging, which AI may never fully grasp in comparison to human writing.” Jeanne, who is an executive at Pipeline Media Group and editor-in-chief of Pipeline Artists, explains how focusing on her intended audience allows her to write with more clarity: “We writers like to think of ourselves as clear thinkers, but the clear thinking part of it comes in during the rewrite. Anything I write needs to be rewritten to become clear. And since writing is about getting people to feel, I have to put myself in the reader’s shoes and ask how they will interpret it and whether I’m getting the message across.”


“It takes practice to be comfortable being raw and honest,” says Jeanne. “And honesty is so important on so many levels, even in marketing. People can smell somebody blowing smoke a mile away, and if they’re selling hope. It takes a certain level of honesty for the person writing the copy to let the company be vulnerable, honest and transparent with your audience. I think it just takes practice. It’s very scary the first time you write something personal, but once you start writing with reckless abandon, you get more comfortable.” “People want writer’s block to be real since it’s an excuse not to write, but it’s all in your head,” says Sadie. “Overcoming blockage requires just sitting down and writing, which is the toughest thing to do. But once you’re not thinking about it too much and you get out of your own way, it becomes much easier.” “Once you feel your work is as good as it can be, the first step is to hand it over and ask for feedback, which can be very hard, especially for fiction,” says Jeanne. “The second step is looking through the feedback, asking yourself how you feel about the suggestions and what your gut feeling says about it, and determining if it’s still true to the story you want to tell.”


Sadie compares writing great headlines to writing great loglines — those one-line sentences that set up a scene and hook you into reading a screenplay. Walking us through her headline-first approach to this process, Sadie says, “When I was first starting out, I would write the script first and then write the logline, and would end up getting confused because they were not matching up. Writing the logline before the script can make a huge difference because you’ve set up a very simple blueprint of where you’re going with your story.”


The discussion wraps with the art of writing more with less, to which Jeanne adds, “As an editor of online content, I always break paragraphs up a lot. But in terms of learning that skill set — to write concisely and with meaning — I would say when Twitter was 140 characters, that was the best teacher in editing yourself. I was really upset when they expanded the character limit. I also always come back to Ernest Hemingway’s bit of writing ’For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.’ It tells a whole story in six words.”


The episode concludes with Red Havas VP of Social and Content Nancy Anderson and our Red Questionnaire guest Melanie Klausner, EVP.  Together, they discuss a myriad of topics ranging from Melanie’s go-to travel destination, her favorite podcasts and how she describes her job to a child. “I help brands tell stories, connect with people, and build and maintain a positive reputation,” says Melanie on the latter. “What I love most are the clients and media relationships that we build, and the opportunity in my role to coach and encourage our colleagues to find their voice and passion and figure out how to shape, visualize, influence and secure the stories that we tell for brands.” Give “Red Sky Fuel for Thought” a listen, and subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app. Don’t forget to rate and review to help more people find us!