I’m a firm believer in evidence-based medicine and credible health writing. I try and sell a message accurately and focus on evidence and facts – even in sales-related health copywriting projects.
Sometimes, I need to think of a catchy, attention-grabbing headline to promote, say, an article about a new piece of research – and I fear that I run the risk of not taking my own advice, or not being true to what I believe in.
I was in this predicament today, when I was under pressure to write a piece to: a) meet a quick turnaround time, and b) get it finished before my 9-month old woke up from her nap.
I have, however, developed a way to manage these situations, so I’m still able to produce pieces that find a way to grab eyeballs without sacrificing credibility or misrepresenting an issue.
Here’s how I have found ways to reduce the risk of choosing sensationalism over sense:
- Tone it down – I think of the most sensationalist headline possible, one that I might read on a social sharing website, for example (ie “THIS EVERYDAY OBJECT IS ACTUALLY GIVING YOU CANCER”) and I think about why it’s misleading. Then I work backwards, experimenting with words, until I can be sure that there is an equal balance of fact and intrigue.
- Read other similar research – I read other articles that have discussed previous studies on credible health and medical websites and look at what makes their wording credible.
- Know my audience – Credible and evidence-based doesn’t have to mean boring. I ensure that, once I have the facts, I can apply them in a voice that speaks to my readers by studying the publication I’m writing for and reading other pieces on similar subjects.
It’s hard to know if I get it right all the time – and there are always editorial changes that are made by editors and subs once I’m finished with a piece. But it is important to me to make every effort to produce credible health content. All any of us can do is our best, right?
About the author: Michelle Guillemard
Michelle is a health writer, medical writer, health copywriter and medical editor with more than 12 years’ experience. Michelle is also an Executive Member of the Australasian Medical Writers Association.
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