January 2, 2019

Action replay: The best of content writing in 2018

content writing of 2018 in review on a paper placed over a wooden board

Picture this familiar scenario: You are in office and have just made a to-do list, hoping to finish your work on time – and efficiently, at that.

Before you know it, however, you’re sucked into the recesses of the internet, reading up on the dog in California that patiently waited for its family to turn up after a storm! And then you find yourself poring over Deepika and Ranveer’s wedding guest list.

With content being omnipresent, it takes a special kind of skill on behalf of content writers to create pieces that are clutter-breaking and will ensure clicks from readers.

Keep reading for five brilliant examples of content writing in 2018, and why they worked so well.

1. Thai Cave Rescue: USA Today

Type: Illustrated news article

In mid-2018, 12 boys from a Thai soccer team were trapped in a flooded cave for over two weeks. Rescuing them was an extremely complicated affair due to the heavy rainfall and the consequent rising water levels. The cave’s dark and twisty geography made matters worse.

What prevented this horrifying episode from becoming a tragedy, however, were the relentless efforts of the rescue operations team. In the end, all 12 boys were safely rescued.

Most online news publications decided to run a two-week long live blog of the entire saga, which is par for the course of news constantly seeing some development. However, USA Today went a step ahead and decided to intersperse its news piece with infographics accurately depicting rainfall statistics, the boys’ location, the path carved by the rescue team, and several other challenges that they faced along the way.

What this piece did was successfully break down the complicated and magnificent operation into something easily understandable by the lay reader.

Have a look here.

2. How OML Failed the Women in its Ranks: Caravan

Type: Topical news feature

In September this year, actor Tanushree Dutta sparked off India’s #MeToo movement, leading to hundreds of women naming their sexual harassers on social media. A lot was said and reported in the media over the ensuing two weeks. Several of the outed predators were senior men from politics, the startup world, and industries such as media and entertainment.

Of the pieces that stood out in a flurry of reportage around #MeToo, Caravan Magazine’s long-form news feature definitely deserves mention. The well-written piece shed light on the toxic work culture and sexual harassment prevalent at Only Much Louder (OML), India’s leading music and stand-up company.

The article spoke to several women who either currently work at OML or did so in the past, which revealed shocking allegations against the company’s much-loved founders. Needless to say, the piece divided India’s independent music and stand-up comedy scene and followers.

3. If These Shoes Could Talk: Kiwi Shoe Polish

Type: Print advertising

In its 2018 print campaign (print advertising is dead, you say?), Kiwi Shoes scouted out shoes of great men and women such as Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, and Mohammed Ali – people who left behind very big shoes to fill.

What makes this campaign incredible is its brilliant long copy, an art that is facing the danger of extinction today. The copy waxes eloquent about each stalwart’s first steps and how these led them to achieve things that made a mark on the world.

See all the print ads here or hear them on Kiwi’s official campaign microsite here.

4. How a Car Engine Works: Animagraffs

Type: Illustrated infographic

study reveals that about 75% of millennial car owners have no idea how to change tyres. With this statistic in play, it would be safe to assume that their knowledge about a car’s engine too would be patchy at best.

Let’s admit, however, that the workings of a car’s engine would baffle even the most scientifically-inclined among us.

This animated infographic by Animagraffs makes this complicated machinery easy and fun. It uses animated elements to portray the various moving elements of the engine, diagrams in vibrant colours, and crisp text to communicate facts and trivia.

This creative data visualisation embodies ‘making learning fun’.

5. Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry: The New Yorker

Type: Long-form essay 

This wonderfully written long-form essay gives you a patient, detailed look at Japan’s newest ‘industry’, where absolutely anyone can hire a person to fill absolutely anyone else’s shoes – lover, boss, deceased wife, junior colleague, even a fake ‘future husband’ to pacify agitated parents of single children.

What makes this essay delightful is the in-depth research, an absolute lack of bias, and the several cultural truths that reveal themselves as you make your way through the long piece.

The implications of renting people to play various roles in your life may seem horrifying at the start, but by the end, you will emerge feeling more empathetic and understanding of what it means to put a price on different human emotions.

In a nutshell 

2018 has been a fantastic year as far as content writing is concerned. With new techniques, new talent, and new ideas, the world is seeing more innovative ways of keeping readers hooked. And 2019 is going to be an even more interesting year, to say the least.