Publish well
don’t send

There’s a saying you might have seen floating about for years: “Publish, don’t send.”

It means that if you want to get a message out to a lot of people, don’t send them all an email. Instead, publish what you want to say, and tell those people where to find the thing you’ve published.

What’s sometimes not said at the same time is that you should publish well. That means:

Publish on the web by using the web

Publish in simple, accessible HTML that will display nicely on any device. Use the internet for what it’s good at: linking to things, or combining images and text and video on a single page.

Just throwing your existing Word doc, PDF file or Powerpoint presentation on the web for people to download doesn’t count. If you want people to read something, create something that’s readable.

Publish so that people can find what you’ve written

Publish at a readable, write-downable, bookmarkable, permanent URL. Publish on an open platform, so that everyone can read what you’ve written without having to register or sign up for anything first. Your words will spread further that way, because people will find it easier to share links to them.

Publish just what needs to be said

Keep it short and make sure it’s easy to understand. Everybody’s far too busy to read long things, or to invest time in trying to parse complex arguments. If you have a lot to say, break it out into separate pieces of content.

Sounds a bit like using a blog

Write blog posts. Write short ones, often. Try to become a voice that people want to hear from. And don’t be phased by this, because it’s not a new demand on your time. If you’re already coming up with messages that you want to spread among a particular audience, you’re already writing blog posts in your head. Publishing them well won’t be a huge burden, and might actually save you time.

Filed under: work
(7 December 2020)