On an Island with Jess Reimer, Paper Plane Communications
For the second instalment we headed out to the Island with Jess Reimer of Paper Plane Communications. We’re often collaborating with Jess on projects when clients are looking for in-depth content strategy and writing for their audience. So sit back, relax, and learn a little about content strategy for websites. And if you notice any grammatical errors…don’t hold that against Jess, that’s on us… ????
ISLAND: Tell us about Paper Plane?
Jess Reimer: Paper Plane is a communications consultancy based here in Saskatoon. Last December Paper Plane celebrated its 5th birthday, which was an exciting milestone to hit.
The “fancy” version of what I do is psychology-driven brand and content strategy. What that actually means is I do a lot of research, ask a lot of questions, and write a lot of words so my clients speak directly to their customers in a way that is honest, authentic, and delivers big impact. “Fluff” and “filler” are my least favourite F-words. I coach companies through the process of finding their voice, understanding their audiences, and communicating what they know and what they’ve learned. And I love it.
My training in developmental psychology, professional writing, and user experience helps me help organizations—particularly those in the arts, culture, and tourism sectors—do well by doing good. And while I work primarily with websites, I also help out with things like white papers, award applications, scripting… you name it, I’ve probably written it.
“A few years ago I was asked to draft letters of authenticity for a collection of didgeridoos in rural Australia, so… there’s that.”
I: Where does your website and digital presence fit within the success of your business?
JR: Confession: for too long I was the shoemaker without shoes. No website, no business cards… nada. Writing about yourself and your business is tough stuff, and I’m saying this as someone whose “thing” is words! But ultimately I had to take my own advice and remember that working without a website can cost you clients, cash, and credibility. No, thank you.
“When it comes to a digital presence, authenticity is a non-negotiable; people can spot a fraud from a mile away. Who I am online is who I am in person—for better or for worse.”
I: Copyediting versus copywriting. What’s the difference and what do you wish people knew?
JR: Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to share a homebuilding analogy I’ve heard (and used) many times before. A copywriter is the builder who takes you from an empty lot to a well-designed, well-constructed home. A copyeditor is the interior decorator you hire to apply finishing touches to a space—a place for everything, and everything in its place.
What do I wish people knew? How much time quality copywriting and copyediting take. Just like building a home, it’s not an overnight process. Living in a gig economy has its perks, but the whole “race to the bottom” when it comes to pricing has negatively affected expectations about the investment and effort necessary to produce content that is both usable and useful. You get what you pay for!
I: What is the biggest mistake you see businesses making when it comes to content strategy?
JR: Other than not having a content strategy? Forgetting to invite the most important people to the table: your customers. Designing a website without involving or at least considering the folks who will be accessing whatever it is that you offer is as much a disservice to you as it is to them.
“Your brand might be the bones of your business, but your customers are its heartbeat.”
I: How does a good content strategy set your website apart?
JR: It’s probably worth mentioning here that content is more than words (cue 90s banger ballad). Content is images, videos, and other multimedia, too. Sure, you can grab stock photos or fill your website with the same old, same old copy (please don’t), but with a content strategy you are showing up for yourself, your brand, and—most importantly— your customers by creating, structuring, and publishing with intention. From a psychological standpoint, acting with intention communicates purpose, which is both powerful and memorable.
I: If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about creating or revamping their website, what would it be?
JR: Know thyself well, thy brand better, and thy customers best. To go back to the homebuilding analogy, these three things provide the foundation from which to build or rebuild a home or, in this case, a website.
I: If you were stranded on an island, what is the one thing you couldn’t live without?
JR: This one’s a toss-up between books (I always have at least three on the go) and lip chap (I also always have at least three on the go).