Reaching for reach

I have this love for story — the hear and the tell — the feel that comes from being submersed in a good narrative.

I believe that I was born with this hunger for story, driven by a native curiosity to know and see and feel the world around me. That, paired with an unshakable desire and urgency to share with others the stories I’ve discovered, led me to pursue my career as a writer.

I’ve always loved the creative freedom that comes with writing — the instinctual aspect of the profession.

Almost instantaneously after starting my job at Elliance I began blogging — a service we perform for many of our clients, most often those in higher education, to help them expand their reach and better connect with their target audience.

As I began to write, I would find myself in the zone, really getting a good flow going in the copy and focusing on telling a brilliant story. That’s when I would hear the words that, although I have now come to value and respect, at first bred frustration: “Don’t forget the keywords.”

I quickly learned that there is a second part to writing when it comes to the world of marketing. That along with instinct must come strategy, and that the two do not need compete but must work together hand in hand to see success in any marketing campaign. It is both story and reach.

I learned the importance of creating copy that is baked with SEO. Because the truth is, you can write the most beautiful piece in the world, but what is the purpose of publishing if no one will ever see it? SEO does not hinder me as a writer, it amplifies me and those I am representing. It is a tool that gives reach, makes that blog or web page more easily searchable for key audience members, and helps bump the clients we’re representing further up on page one of Google search.

Our Director of Brand Development, Craig recently shared a unique perspective on this topic, paralleling the similarities between reaching humans and the Google “bots.”

Originally I saw keywords as clunky roadblocks to the flow of my words, but my perspective has changed. I now see keywords as an exciting challenge: How will I get creative and innovative with these words? How will I incorporate this information so that it does not sit on top of the story I’ve written, like oil and water, but so that it becomes part of the story and flows naturally.

Optimization has been a vital part of reaching our projected audiences and expanding the number of views and shares that these blogs receive, leading to an increase in awareness of our colleges and universities — instilling a sense of connectivity, influencing student and alumni engagement and heightening enrollment numbers.

This has challenged me to become a better writer and has taught me much in my career. The more I write the more I realize that there is a certain harmony that must be maintained between instinct and strategy, heart and mind.

Everyday I am still learning to find that perfect balance between writing style and optimization strategy, and with every blog I come a little closer.