Stop calling your expensive, professional material “content”

Good publishers spend a lot of time and money to hire intelligent, professional editors, writers, proof readers, fact checkers, graphic designers, user interface experts, etc. etc., and we strive to make a fantastic product that’s clearly a sharp step above the nonsense people blurp out on blogs and tweets and Facebook posts.

Then we call this fantastic stuff “content.”

“Content” is a lame word. In my mind it conjures up the polyester stuffing in a cheap pillow. That’s the “contents” of the pillow.

You might ask, “What’s the content of that box?”

A: “Oh, just some junk from the garage.”

“Content,” in short, is not an inspiring word. It brings to mind the uninteresting stuff that fills something else.

A lot of stuff out there is “content.” It’s the blather of the masses. It’s the dreck from which, occasionally, something surfaces to get 15 minutes of fame on Twitter.

That’s not your business. You’re not in a contest against images of somebody’s rear end. You’re doing more compelling, interesting things.

So here’s a challenge. For the next week, every time you’re tempted to say or write “content” as a description of the professional, excellent material you produce, say “intellectual property” instead.

There are two very cool things about intellectual property. First, it’s intellectual. Second, it’s property.

It’s not stuffing. It’s not the junk in a box. It’s intelligent and meaningful and worth your time.

It’s also valuable. It’s somebody’s property (yours), which means other people don’t have a right to it without compensation.

Publishers need to believe in their product if they expect other people to, and steering away from the bland and boring “content” might be a good start.

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