If anyone pursues the offer in the following letter, AWCom, would appreciate a report on how it turned out.
An open letter to automotive writing associations in North America
“We need to make accountability, integrity—excellence—cool again.”
I’m pretty positive you (and your members) have been getting the wrong advice when it comes to social media and the Internet in general.
It makes my blood boil when I read half-baked strategies for success online. I cringe when experts talk about personal branding. I have three questions for automotive writers in North America: Do you really know how to write for the web? And do you (or your publisher) know how to build traffic, visitor awareness, and capture the attention of advertisers? Do you, as freelancers, know how to create a portfolio of work that’s made for the Internet – and is not just a collection of re-hashed dead tree newsprint articles?
If I told you that Google (and other search engines) read every single word of your reviews to gauge relevance, would you spend some more time proofreading? What if I said a reader’s first click onto your article (or website) could be their last?
Would you tweak your headlines and introductions for precision and clarity? Would you insert links to guide your readers to relevant source material? Would you man up and do a better job?
Stories, once liberated online, can become hubs of information, instruction, and comment. They can generate not only boatloads of traffic (yay…) but earn you the respect and trust of your readers.
If you’re a freelancer, waiting for your editor to add links, subheads, and change the format of your work is like asking permission from your parents on which positions they’d suggest when you bed your significant other.
I envision a world in which automotive writers always provide the best information possible, if they wrote it or not. In which they not only give readers amazing stories but the tools necessary to make the best decisions for their needs.
Why? It’s our job.
Automakers (and writers) like to tout that vehicles are the second-largest purchase of a person’s life, after their house. And it’s a purchase many make every three to seven years. Frequency dictates that the more bad advice and bad writing your readers receive each time they read your work, the more quickly they’ll be able to tune you out. People are embracing forums, Facebook comment threads, and Twitter for a reason.
Honestly, I’d like to help. If you want me to speak at your federation or whatever, I will. I don’t have a car (or book test vehicles that often) so you’ll have to figure out a way of getting me there. I’m simply tired of the misinformation and bad advice swirling around the industry.
Special thanks to Brian, who told me not to bitch so much and actually try to help. (That’s his quote above.)
Oh, and if anyone wants to chat over email, I’m at michael [[ at ]] banovsky [[ dot ]] com.