Several weeks ago in the RPad.TV chat, smartguy used the term “low-hanging fruit.” He was talking about politicians and their predilection for doing the bare minimum in order to get the job (kinda) done. As usual, I agreed with his take, but I also started having flashbacks (not quite flashbacks to ‘Nam, but along those lines in a less traumatic way).
You see, last year I worked for a website that constantly used the phrase low-hanging fruit in regards to editorial strategy. In some respects, an editorial leader that adheres to the strategy of low-hanging fruit is similar to a politician that does the same. At best, they’re being lazy. At worst, they’re being cowardly. Either way, the behavior is something that I loathe.
When I first started working for the site, I was lured in by creative possibilities — the privilege of using a successfully developed and popular platform to highlight creators within the business. Unfortunately, the business that was being covered changed. The site owners panicked and shifted directions. Instead of a platform that offered thoughtful analysis (from other writers, not me) and helped the audience get to know creators, the strategy changed from serving the site instead of serving the readers. The content became all about low-hanging fruit.
In-depth reviews were scrapped in favor of quick-hit previews because the actual content doesn’t matter, only getting a story up first so that it will rank highly on Google. Creative features were ignored in favor of whatever SEO keyword needed to be stuffed. Intelligent analysis was killed in favor of company profiles with little or no research. “Top 10” lists were forced…and those almost always suck, no matter the website. I was amazed by how quickly an outlet that I liked and respected devolved into one that I hated reading and was embarrassed to write for. The source of it all — low-hanging fruit.
Even though smartguy sorta kinda gave me a panic attack when he used the term, I’m glad he did. It was a nice reminder of why I’m happy that I no longer work for a website with little creativity, poor editorial management, and a cowardly editorial philosophy. Thanks for reminding me why low-hanging fruit sucks, SG!