A couple of months ago, I went to a plant sale at the Botanical Garden. I was looking for plants for a hanging basket and asked one of the volunteers if she thought the plant I had in my hand would work well. She looked at me and said, “Well, do you know what the rule of thumb is? You need a filler, a spiller and a thriller!” She went on to explain that the “filler” is the plant that fills the majority of the basket. The “spiller” is the plant that trails over the side. Finally, the “thriller” is the plant that gives your hanging basket a “wow” factor and stands out from the others. (Hopefully, you can identify all three elements in the photo of the basket that I composed.)
So I started thinking…what if the same rule could be applied to content?
The “Filler” would be considered the main part of your content. In a news release it would be the facts about your event, product release or other news. In an article or blog post, it would be the main body of content. Filler copy tells your story. As the word implies, it “fills” the container neatly without leaving unsightly gaps. Your story should do the same. Tell it succinctly and give all of the necessary facts or information. When I planted my hanging basket, I stepped back and looked at it, then rearranged the plants if it didn’t look attractive. Do the same with your content. Let it sit for a few minutes or even for a few days, then edit if you need to.
The “Spiller” would be any piece of interesting information that might cause the reader to take note or to take an action. For example, you might include a quote from a book with a link to the author’s website or to Amazon.com. Or you could include a link to a survey or email form on your own website. If you’re writing a news release announcing a new company CEO, for example, you could include an interesting piece of personal information. “Spiller” copy should be used sparingly, for attention’s sake. It should complement your story.
This is the real attention grabber; probably your headline if you’re writing a news release or the title of a blog post. It could even be a title used at the beginning of a paragraph or a call-out quote in an article. If you have an attention grabbing photo – one that could possibly generate a lot of sharing – then use it. In collateral materials such as brochures or trade show handouts it could be a graphic element. My “thriller” is the title of this blog post; hopefully, it made you want to read further.
Don’t forget the Container
My plant container was a hanging basket. With content, the container is whatever distribution platform it goes in – social site, blog, collateral material, email, website, etc. Consider the container when “planting” your content…i.e., hanging baskets dry out quickly and require more watering. Your content may require more frequent refreshing as well, depending on what form it takes. The goal is to create engaging content that will be shared and therefore, will “hang around.”
I’ll close with a “spiller”…there are photos from the Botanical Garden in the Photo Karma Gallery at the bottom of this page – check them out!