When you write for a living, you eventually get an assignment to write about something you never heard of. It may be in your industry, but you have to google the thing to know what it is and why it matters.
This is when you give thanks for having honed your research chops. If you can get up to speed fast, you can ask smart questions, find out what readers need to know and tell a convincing story about the thing you didn’t know existed three days ago.
Before you start writing:
- Pinpoint the client's market position on this particular thing
- Scour any source materials and background information
- Fill any gaps with judicious research*
- Identify customer pain points and how the thing helps/hurts
- Understand how the client’s solution differs from competitors’
*It’s easy to go so far down the rabbit hole, you forget why you’re there. Stay focused on the keywords and phrases that turn up relevant results, not results that make you go hmmm.
Solid research informs your interview questions, prevents time-wasting digressions wherein SMEs explain the basics, and backs up key message points once you start writing.
If you can go from idiot to expert before talking to the real rockstars, you’ll end up with better insight into the thing’s future.