Wednesday 11 May 2022

Afro Leo

The art of sharing: 10 tips for writing blog posts and newsletters

Sharing information on just about anything, particularly an esoteric subject like intellectual property in Africa is so important because it creates awareness, educates, and ultimately stimulates the market and interest in that subject. For the sharer or writer, the exercise is a worthwhile investment; it improves writing skills, understanding, profile, networks, work generation and can be quite cathartic. Yet, the way in which information is shared plays an important role in maximising the return on that investment. Here are 10 tips for improving blog posts and newsletters. 


1.      Focus on what’s important, upfront

What is the main thrust of the article, news report or clip that you want to share? Incorporate this in the first para to your post or intro, either through a quote from the article or in your own words.

Example: TYPO has recently released its findings on the success of the FORGOTTO system. According to the report “66% of users applying for applications find it time consuming and frustrating” ….

2.      Summarise the content or what is covered by the article

The purpose of your share is to introduce and then give the reader more information on what the article is about. Your post or content should be able to stand alone as a summary of what is contained in the article, inviting the reader to research further by reading the article. In this way, it should function as an executive summary with an option to link to the article for further reading. Use headings, subheadings and bullet points to make it simple and concise.

This section, often a second para, could read: [subheading] The TYPO report canvasses the entire application process including application, publication, and registration. It also covers user feedback on pricing and a useful comparative report against user feedback on the LEKKA system as well as the following: [bullet points]. In general, FORGOTTO is not as functional or useful as the LEKKA system, according to the report. You can read more about the findings here (link).

3.       Add value: ask a question or give an opinion or add additional information

Everyone can share but the difference between an aggregator and a thought leader is the value they then add. It needn’t be profound or lengthy. Often, just a question or statement on the article is sufficient for the reader to start thinking more deeply about what he or she is reading.

Example: One wonders if the FORGOTTO system was electronic and had a dedicated helpline, the experience of the user would be improved (blog post) or we are assisting FORGOTTO create a more user-friendly application system by offering them IT support training and user support (newsletter).

4.      Add value: provide further information, links, and sources

Your opinion does not sit in a vacuum and itself can lead to debate, discussion, or contemplation. Invite the reader to other sources on the topic. Not only does this give them the impression that you are well read (giving gravitas to your question or view) but it creates trust and a deeper understanding to the topic.

You can read more about this development here and here (with links). In this article (link), the findings of the TYPO report are celebrated, and this article (link) advocates for a paper-based system for the FORGOTTO initiative.

For more tips on blog writing click here.

5.      Treat news articles and even those from law firms, with caution

Try to quote and share from credible sources. Fact-check articles you link to as much as possible. Time is often a problem so use common sense, read critically, and adopt a third-party stance using quotes, if in doubt.

This article from ADOPT & ADOPT reports that “80% of IP rights holders have enforced their rights in Africa” and then don’t be afraid to question the statement. This statistic does seem high given the 2018 ELIO report (link) which gave a low score to user confidence on the enforceability of IP rights on the continent (see 3 above).

6.      Link to articles and content in the correct way

This indicates respect and of course would be particularly ironic for a law firm or lawyer to err on. This means using quotes, linking to the article, and acknowledging the author. It also means quoting only what is necessary (see 1 above) for the purpose of the post or content. Be aware that photographs may have different copyright owners and you may not be able to determine who owns the copyright in a photograph. In this situation rather do not use the picture (see 9 below).

You can read the full article authored by Munchkin & Munchkin here (link).

7.      Be consistent if quoting different styled texts

Sometimes a blog post or newsletter requires linking and commenting on a variety of articles written in different styles. The important aspect here is to be consistent in how your report, share and comment on them. The way in which you use dates, currency, quotes, and the style of comment should be consistent. For a firm newsletter, it is often quite factual and professional. For a blog post, it may be that you can have more of a personal touch (indeed, that can add value and create interest). If you use currency, try to convert it to one which your audience will understand e.g., dollars, if international.  

8.      Plain English please

No latin (court aquo, causa, mero motu, verbatim, dies non, quid pro quo, bona fide, inter alia). No jargon unless the meaning is clear from the context (the matter, confusing similarity, the registrar, class 31, the bench, appellant). No proper nouns unless they are proper nouns or defined (judge, intellectual property rights, applicant, appellant, court). No redundant words or phrases (in order to, in relation to, in respect of, true facts, small in size, consensus of opinion, past history). Avoid Shakespearian words (hereinafter, herein, wherefore etc). Generally, one sentence one thought. No cliches (live to fight another day, can of worms and … my favourite – “be that as it may” comma).

9.      Headings and pictures are important

[licensed on a free to use basis]

Headings and pictures capture the reader. It is these two features of the content that get replicated on social media, in aggregated content and are most likely to attract interest. Choose them carefully and only after the post is written. Rather delay a post for decent picture than publish it without one but be copyright aware (see 6).

10.  Be authentic

Authenticity and true sharing will develop trust and readership. Although self-congratulation is frowned upon, done appropriately it can develop a following and add to authenticity. Don’t be afraid to congratulate others, even competitors where it is due. Tag authors whose content you have used and be true to your objective, which should be a service to the client or community – in this case you!

E.g., I sincerely hope these ten tips have been helpful. They are not made up I can assure you! They are inspired by reader criticism measured in over 1 million pageviews of over 1000 posts and articles written by yours truly on Afro-IP, IP Finance, Oxford University Press, World Trademark Review, firm blogs and other publications - the output of a labour of love over many years. And now shared with you, with love.

Afro Leo

Afro Leo

Afro Leo

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