Yesterday, a client told me a story about a friend of hers at another company. A company reorganizing its communications department by stuffing it full of marketers with no particular communications expertise.
My client said something like, “But can they write?” And her friend replied confidently:
“Oh, anyone can write.”
Reader, I screeched in horror.
Fortunately my client was right there with me. She understands that while anyone can write—most people have the requisite number of fingers to work a keyboard, the opposable thumbs to hold a pen—not everyone should.
“Anyone can write?” Have you read some of the stuff out there?
Some people are born storytellers. They captivate their audiences with memorable messages that stick long after the speech is over, the opinion piece read.
Other people…well, they’re handy to have around when insomnia strikes.
Of course, most of us write every day. Emails, texts, Mother’s Day cards (that’s your Public Service Announcement: it’s tomorrow).
But stringing words together to thank Mom for the meatloaf, or to remind your colleagues about the strategy meeting on Monday—that’s not writing. It’s not going to inspire anyone (well, maybe Mom). It’s not something you need your readers to remember forever; just until the meeting starts.
How many mush-mouthed corporate mission statements have you read? How many reports that say nothing? Or—the opposite sin—that say so much you can’t uncover the real message? Those, my friends, were written by Anyone—the “anyone” who “can write.”
Anyone can learn to write
Now, there’s hope for Anyone—because Anyone can learn to write. But, as with everything, the first step is recognizing you have a problem. In this case, it’s the company’s problem: they don’t understand why good writing matters.
I’ve always said that my favorite clients were smart enough to know good writing when they read it, but too busy to do it themselves. That’s where I come in.
Now that I’ve added webinars to the mix of services I offer, I should tweak that slightly:
My favorite clients are smart enough to know good writing when they read it and savvy enough either to get the support they need to do it themselves or to find a great writer to do it for them.
Okay, that’s a mouthful. I’ll work on it.
Still, I feel sorry for those poor marketers being shoehorned into comms jobs because the boss thinks “anyone can write.”
Anyone—if you’re reading this, call me. I can help.
Write better when you write more often. Join my 5-day writing challenge: Write for 15 minutes a day and I’ll donate your registration fee to a global literacy nonprofit. More info and registration link here.
Also published on Medium.