Writing PIER-fect Posts

Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park - photo by Linda Fulkerson

Several years ago, I attended a CLASSSeminar training with Florence and Marita Littauer. They taught us an easy-to-remember outline for presentations that can be adapted to blogging as well as speaking — the P-I-E-R method. The word PIER is a tool to remind the presenter of the four major elements each aritcle, presentation, or speech should contain:

  • Point
  • Instruction
  • Experience
  • Reference

Point

An old saying for speakers is,  “If there’s no point, there’s no point.” Each post you write should have one main key point you wish to leave with your readers. Blog posts are too short to branch off into tangents — sticking with one point per post will keep you focused, give your audience good take-away value, and even help search engines determine your post’s purpose.

Instruction

The major woe I hear as a blog coach is “no one reads my blog.” My response is usually, “What are you giving the reader in return for their time?”

Return on Investment (ROI) isn’t just about money. People are busy. They need to know when they stop by a blog that they can justify the 6 or 8 minutes spent reading the newest post by knowing they’ll learn something.

“But I just write about what I’m doing,” laments one blogger.

Such as?

“Oh, you know — shopping and stuff.”

Okay. Instead of simply gushing about your latest shoe purchase, include some useful shopping tips within the post. You don’t have to ignore your voice or not have fun with your blog, but throwing in some info about upcoming bargains or maybe why you purchased the type of shoe you bought will offer value to your posts and give your readers incentive to return.

Experience

I’ve said many times on this blog that you must be real with your readers. Share yourself. Let them get to know you. The best way to do this is to tell stories.

Parables and fables have been used by great teachers for centuries. This type of teaching explains something hard to understand by relating it to something the audience is familiar with. Albert Einstein explained his theory of relativity using this method.

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.”

Reference

Many speakers and writers are tempted to rehash (or even outright copy) content from other speakers or writers and present it as their own thinking this will make them appear smarter to their readers, when in reality, citing a reference actually gives more credibility to your work. This shows that you didn’t just make something up — that the point you’re making or the instruction you’re offering is valid, proven, and effective. References or resources can include charts, graphs, quotes, interviews — use your imagination.

Every post won’t need a reference, because sometimes you are sharing entirely from experience (or making stuff up!), but when you share something of value that you’ve learned from a respected authority, such as this information I learned from Florence and Marita Littauer, it’s only fair and fitting to give your source credit.

Don’t copy someone word for word without permission, though, and always let your reader know when you’re quoting. Concepts are not subject to copyright law, so it’s fine to rework someone else’s concept into your own words (like I’ve done with this post). However, it’s courteous and ethical to honor your source.

Conclusion

These elements don’t have to be in any certain order. In other words, they don’t have to spell P-I-E-R, but including all four will strengthen your posts. Get creative. Use the E (experience) first by sharing a personal anecdote as your lead. Or simply sandwich these four items between your lead and your conclusion/call to action, and you’ll have a great post every time.

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3 comments ↓

#1 Jean on 11.12.09 at 6:42 am

Thanks for this very handy bit of information.

#2 Linda Fulkerson on 11.12.09 at 6:49 am

Thanks for stopping by, Jean!

#3 Carolyn on 01.27.10 at 9:21 am

Linda,

You’re a pro! A coach that I follow instructions from and really see results. That means a lot! Keep what you’re doing, Coach! You’re worth your weight in gold!

Crittersister

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