What the world of journalism can teach creative tech

journalism, technology, newspaper

Amy Durrant, Creative lead, rehab

Creative technology is ever-evolving.

Things change from one day to the next and it’s no surprise that some find it hard to keep up. Brand experience has been influenced by changing messaging tech – that’s why getting to grips with chatbots and voice skills allows brands to reach their target audiences in the appropriate way, whilst also keeping up with trends. Communicating in a more personal way automatically means your audience feels as if they’re having a one-on-one conversation and in turn a more targeted experience.

But how does journalism affect these conversations? In my previous working life, I worked in media. Writing the likes of news articles and features for design to music publications. I believe there’s a lot the tech sector can learn from journalism, regardless of the actual content I drafted and wrote. How I actually communicated with the reader is the biggest lesson. I wanted my readers to connect with me and what I was saying, building a human rapport. Brands communications through tech needs to do the same.

Consumers automatically connect better with human like conversations – those that remind them of those interactions they have in the real world. Speaking in the natural language of your intended audience engages and keeps consumers coming back for more.

I’ve often found that using my previous experience of writing helps when I come to copywriting for creative tech. Through emphasising the narrative through a more human style it helps connect with the right audience.

So where do we actually start in really combining the two? Here are my top tips:

Keep asking

In journalism, before ever putting pen to paper, you need to address the angle of your piece. It’s all about the ‘who, what, where, when, why and how’ – that’s how you build your narrative and get the essence of the piece across to your audience. This is mirrored in conversations created in voice and messaging.

Ask the same questions of your chatbot or voice skill in order to create the correct persona- whether you want a more serious and informative chatbot, or a voice that offers a fun and informal interaction. Once you know this, it leads the way to create a personality and an actual ‘who’ with whom your audience can chat. You can then define what the assistant can help with and what service it offers. Outline what the benefits of interacting with this skill are. As soon as you’ve established this you can set the necessary expectations for the user, create something relevant, and will be on your way to creating a winner.

Understanding your audience

This might sound like something simple, but when it came to journalism it was something I always had to nail. Taking this on with a creative tech mindset, I looked at ‘interviewing’ the audience. You can really find out the nitty-gritty of what your audience wants to gain and what they want to learn about. It’s no good just pushing products. People usually want to receive something informative. Once you’ve got the answers you can build up a bank of information that you know interests your audience. Basing your tone of voice around these answers means you’re a step closer to creating a voice that speaks directly to your audience.

Why not add and increase personalisation in your offerings? In the set-up of the assistant user, ask them what they want. Take our recent work with Nike. We created Nike Coach, an assistant providing consumers with advice on how to improve their running habits and find the right shoes for their needs. But in order to find out how to advise them we needed to first ask some vital questions. For example, where do users enjoy running, what is the intended outcome of their run, and what does finding the right pair of trainers entail? After collating these findings, we began personalising the content for each individual user, connecting them to relevant areas within the Nike assistant.

It’s no good talking at people, engage with them instead

People only read the content that they find engaging or useful, the job of a journalist is to produce the work that achieves this. It’s not about talking at them, you want to be the same level as them, so they feel included in any conversations going on. This can also be reflected in any conversations in creative tech. Don’t ramble on with unengaging waffle, you want to make it a two-way street, encourage a back and forth. That’s what makes the right voice skill so interactive – users can jump in and chat with the assistant rather than having unnecessary long streams of talking blared at them. Ask them what they want and where they wish to go.

Your audience needs to sit at the centre of everything, regardless of how you may create your experience. Human aspects are key. Humans always experiment with new things, so your tech should too. Through doing this, you’ll discover innovative ways to interact with your audience. This is the best way to experiment and leads the way to establishing a valuable one-on-one experience that people will remember.

About the author

Amy Durrant is the Creative Lead at the creative technology company rehab. She leads messaging and voice experiences for clients including Nike, Google and Red Bull. Before her four years in the advertising and creative tech industry, she was a journalist. She completed her training with NCTJ and studied Journalism at Sheffield University, going on to write for the likes of NME, Dezeen and USA publisher The PBH Network, among other titles.

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