We all know that good quality content is going to be key. But what makes it good? Is it aimed at your audience in the way that they want to be communicated with? Is it detailed enough, but not over detailed (you have to leave them something to contact you about after all)? Is it new material and not copied from other sources?
This last one has cost me 2 days. A document was sent to me for me to have a quick look through and to tidy up a bit before it went on to the investor tomorrow (at time of writing obviously).
As I read it, it sounded disjointed, there was no flow and no consistent tone of voice. It contradicted itself. If I noticed, then their prospective investor would too. It was a detailed document, but it didn’t say where the content sources were. Now there is a big difference between a content source reference and copying the content hook, line and sinker. The latter is plagiarism. At best will count against you with Google spiders and at worst could land you in court for copyright infringement.
My red flag alert was flying high.
So, I started to check (I just took a partial sentence put it between quotation marks on Google and found the original!), and yes whole swathes of the document were merely copied and pasted from website after website, research paper after research paper.
At this point if I were the investor I would have serious doubts about integrity. I would probably have walked away. If trust isn’t there, then what is left?
I have rewritten the document. I have shortened it to ¼ of its previous length (ok my version is not double spaced text as the original was, but that wouldn’t have been expected and trees are precious!). Created graphics & tables instead of long, long, long lists – yawn! Deleted the irrelevant. Researched and found content for sections not completed as an investor would expect (PESTLE anyone?). BUT also included over SIXTY references as footnotes.
References are necessary for two main reasons in this context: Firstly to give credit to the original author; secondly to give your content gravitas, credibility and due diligence. Let’s be honest when was the last time you even looked at the footnotes? Yeah exactly, but them being there is all that is required to achieve both of those aims.
So, when you create your content ask yourself if it is what is expected in terms of delivery method, language used and structure. Does the content pass the originality test? OK if you are repurposing something that you have created, but not if you are stealing it from someone else.
Yes, today’s post is a slight rant, but at the same time it is a good reminder of what the basic content rules are.