How Sex Offenders Could Be Ruining Your Content Strategy (Yes, Really)

Creepy Guy

A cautionary tale about content gone horribly, horribly wrong

Normally I write for writers on this site, but today I want to switch gears and write for the people who hire writers. (But if you’re a writer, feel free to eavesdrop … and you should, because this post is a hoot.)

I just recently saw the most hilarious content backfire ever.

Want to see? Sure you do. Check out this paragraph from an article describing why Drexel Hill is one of the top small cities in Pennsylvania:

This is also a very safe town. While there are some registered sex offenders in this town, 21 to be exact, there is actually only 1 per 1,406 people in the town. Actually, only one area where safety is regarded as a concern in this town is in regards to the weather. There are more than average tornados and earthquakes in this city.”

What is the reader supposed to take away from this passage? I’m not entirely sure but here are my guesses:

  • If you want to move to Drexel Hill, keep your kids in the house and check into some property insurance riders.
  • Don’t be too concerned about the perverts because you’ll probably die in a natural disaster anyway.
  • You ‘ll only have to deal with sex offenders 6.23 hours per year because the rest of the time they’ll be busy with the other 1405 residents they’re assigned to.

But wait! Before we get all Armageddon up in here (WHERE is Bruce Willis when you need him???), the article says we should also know this about Drexel Hell, er, Hill.

A very good thing about this though is that there is a hospital in the town, Delaware County Memorial Hospital. This is much better than some of the other small towns that do not have a hospital as you do not want to go far when you need emergency medical services.”

Thank you, blog author, for pointing that out. I SO do not want to have to go far for emergency services, especially when I’m unable to make it to the storm shelter because I’ve been derailed by my friendly neighborhood sex offender. It’s like you just know me, you know?

Another town, Willow Grove, was lauded for being a “very traditional town where 53% of the households are married couples and only 10% are single mothers with no husband or male figure in their homes.”

As we all know, single mothers who are unable or unwilling to get laid are a scourge on all of our lives. Thank God at least some of the single mamas in Willow Grove had the good sense to insert a dude into their domiciles. We need to keep that situation contained.

Someone make it stop

One of my pet peeves lately is overuse of the word “epic.” But this mess? You can say it with me: epic content fail. 

So, yes, this was an extreme example. But you know what? There’s still a lot of terrible copy out there on the Internet and somebody, somewhere paid money to put it there.

Maybe even worse: There’s a lot of mediocre copy out there that’s not even worth reading. At least the bad stuff is entertaining.

How does this happen? I’m not telling you anything earth shattering here, but the way I see it, there are certain conditions that create bad or offensively mediocre copy:

  1. When companies look at content as words to fill a space. It’s all so much lorem ipsum as far as they’re concerned. This is usually related to  …
  2. When companies want to cheap out content. Bargain basement content is so dangerous. Why? Because anything that goes on a company’s website is the face of the business as far as the customers are concerned. These companies might as well hand a megaphone to the intern and ask him or her to give the keynote at the industry conference.
  3. When companies think of content as a box to be checked. “Are we doing content?” “Yep.” “OK, good. That’s important. Moving on …” Content is not a set-it-and-forget-it thing. Content can live on the web forever. It can take on a life of its own (for better or, more likely, for worse) if companies don’t pay close attention to it.

Of course, if you’re reading this, I’m probably preaching to the choir. Hopefully your content is the kind that inspires your customers to open their wallets instead of girding their loins.

Have an example of deliciously terrible copy? Send it to me! #guiltypleasure
I’m at trish@writeworks.co

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2 thoughts on “How Sex Offenders Could Be Ruining Your Content Strategy (Yes, Really)

  1. Aden Andrus

    Great article! I love find those little content “gems”… *ahem*

    That being said, I especially agree with the second point of this post. Even if your content isn’t blatantly bad, content for the sake of content is just a waste of everyone’s time and often ends up being counterproductive.

    If you’re going to create content, whether that’s a blog post, TV ad or something in between, it’s critical to have a clear-cut goal for the content and then produce the content to meet that objective. Even in the big companies, you see an awful lot of money wasted on half-baked concepts.

    Or, as I like to say, “Stupid doesn’t sell.”

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