The Quick Think: Engage Your Readers With This One Simple Trick

Note: This piece was originally published over the weekend in our Sunday newsletter. Want content like this delivered to your inbox before it hits our blog? Subscribe here.

A good Monday morning to you: Today’s Quick Think is 773 words, a 3-minute read.

1 Big Thing: Axios Wants Us to Read Everything in Bullet Points

A four-year-old media company has risen rapidly to provide excellent reporting in an ultra-consistent, bullet-based format that is arguably changing the way we look at our inbox.

  • Katie Robertson, writing an Axios-style article in The New York Times, says, “The company’s executives think its short-format writing will build back trust in the media among busy audiences and can teach corporate America to quit its long-winded jargon.”

Why it matters: because in true absurdist fashion it gives us an excuse to pile on and, like the Times, pay our own homage to the newsletter phenomenon sweeping our inboxes. Seriously, we just checked our subscriptions and came up with Axios AM, Axios PM, Axios Vitals, Axios Sports and Axios Nashville. Not to mention competitors Morning Brew and 1440 Digest.

Why it really matters: Because the Axios style of communication works, and we see it every day with clients. Lament short attention spans all you want, but tight prose and well-written bullets are extraordinarily effective at getting the point across.

What’s happening: The rise of sound-bite newsletters is one of two things, or more likely a bit of both.

  • It’s the latest signal in the ongoing evolution of how America consumes media – short and sweet, but with rock-solid reporting behind the tiny word counts and templated format to capture our ever more fragmented attention.
  • It’s a market response to the interest people have in consuming a lot of information. Axios is communicating in a way that their audience tells them they want, but, impressively, with both high volume and a commitment to quality on every level from national to local.

Between the lines: During the pandemic, we observed – and may have occasionally participated in – the overwriting of a lot of content.

  • Provider organizations were trying hard to get large volumes of rapidly evolving, complex information out their communities.
  • Confusion and skepticism led many to use a lot of words. It’s very difficult to explain in soundbites how pandemics progress, or how a virus functions, or why we need the vast majority of the population to get vaccinated.
  • “During the pandemic we may have overcorrected from the Twitter approach and now we’re seeing a swing back to the middle,” mused our CEO David Jarrard. 

Reality check: The Axios model provides lessons for healthcare marcom, as well.

  • When navigating any kind of change, offer consistent, concise information through channels that your audience is already connected with.
  • That means building FAQ and toolkits your team can adapt with the details of any given situation, and then delivering those messages through email, posters, direct voicemail, townhalls, etc.
  • The ultimate goal is to give just enough detail to get the point across and drive a desired action. Then, if people want more or you need to backstop with additional data or context, you can point them to supporting long-form material – in Axios’ case, “Go Deeper.”

This piece was originally published over the weekend in our Sunday Quick Think newsletter. Fill out the form to get that in your inbox every week.

Jarrard Inc.
ourthinking@jarrardinc.com