Who wants to read better writing? Anyone who’s ever cracked open a corporate white paper or listened to an unfocused speech with no clear call to action, or tried to make sense of a mushy corporate values statement. In my admittedly unscientific survey, I think that’s pretty much everyone.
Yesterday, I left you with a multiple choice question:
What are you going to do about the epidemic of bad writing that eats your people’s time and slows down your organization?
a) hire a writing coach for my organization
b) hire some expert help to write for us
c) actually, both of those options look pretty smart
Not difficult to figure out which answer I think is the right one.
But whatever you do, if you’re wasting time and/or money on communications that don’t communicate, you need to do something.
If you don’t have a communications shop in-house, then start one. If you don’t think you have enough work to keep full-time communicators employed, then outsource the work. Find one or two great writers and put them on retainer, buying so many hours of their time each month. They’ll gain more knowledge about your organization and become even more valuable as those months pile up into years. If that seems like too much of a commitment to you, you can hire freelance writers by the project or by the hour. Whichever route you take, you’re headed to the world of better writing.
But do not—seriously, do not—grab a salesperson or someone from accounting who knows her way around desktop publishing and expect them to turn out sparkling, memorable communications. Just because everyone writes emails does not mean everyone can write something that moves people to action.
If you do have a communications shop in-house, congratulations! But maybe your dedicated communicators could benefit from a daylong workshop with an expert to help them look at their work from new perspectives.
It’s hard to keep your work fresh if you’re writing about the same issues week in and week out. Years ago, I found a headline in The New York Times that summed up this challenge wonderfully: “For the Clearest View, Use Someone Else’s Eye.” In fact, I wrote the first post in this blog about that article.
Better writing starts here
I’m tired of reading bad business writing, too—I have to read a lot of what my clients have churned out so I can unearth and repurpose the ideas buried in it. Honestly, some days there’s not enough caffeine in the world…
But while caffeine may be bad for us, learning is definitely good. That’s why I launched a Coaching & Development arm of my ongoing writing business: I help non-writers learn the principles of good business writing. I help good business writers become great. I help rising executives—the folks who don’t yet have the institutional support or budget to hire a speechwriter—learn how to communicate like the executives they deserve to be.