Everyone’s a Writer. Every Writer Needs An Editor.
Agency clients love great photography. They oooh and aaah over new website interactivity that engages them. And they can go round and round over design options for their company’s new logo. All well and good. Those are critical elements of effective communications.
Sometimes lost in the discussions of the next rebranding initiative or digital marketing campaign is what serves as the foundation of the all-important effort.
Of course, that’s what all the writers say. Even when a picture is worth 1,000 words, writers argue that words are still needed to carry the message.
We’re not just talking ANY words. The writing has to be strong, effective and targeted. Here are five tips that writers should keep in mind as they craft content for clients.
1. Know your audience
Who is your target audience? What is their knowledge of your topic? Will they know what you’re talking about? Craft your message to that audience. You’re not writing for your colleagues or your client’s CEO. You’re writing to connect with a specific audience. Anticipate their questions and answer them. Sometimes following the “Who What Where When Why and How” of journalism is a great idea.
2. Write in active voice
“The CEO killed the proposal” is a much stronger statement, better than the passive voice, “The proposal was killed by the CEO.” Use active verbs and avoid passive construction. When you see “by” in your sentence, pause and see if you’ve strayed into passive voice. If so, rewrite to yield a Subject-Verb-Object flow.
3. Choose simple words, fewer words
Why not say “decide” instead of “make a decision?” Try “easy” for “facile” or “effortless.” How about “short” for “curtailed,” “concise” for “epigrammatic” and “help” instead of “facilitate.” Sure, the longer words are not incorrect. They’re just not conversational.
4. Write short sentences, short paragraphs
Make it easy for readers to grasp your information. Run-on sentences, easily broken into two, hurt readership. Long, complex paragraphs often slow down readers and blunt understanding. You’re not writing an academic paper. Let your writing breathe in a less formal style.
5. Edit aggressively
Writers must edit their work in progress. Cut extraneous words and jargon. Double-check facts. Trim the flab. Is it “they’re,” “their” or “there?” Put it aside then come back to it later. Print it out and see the typos and glitches that are inexplicitly hidden on the computer screen jump off the printed page. Then give it to a colleague to edit. Then run spell-check. All writers, even the award-winning variety, need a good editor, an extra set of eyes that ensure the work is as good as it can be before it goes to the client and audience.
Good writing can make or break a marketing campaign. An agency proposal full of poor grammar, jumbled jargon, misspellings and typos won’t impress many clients. A poorly written and edited brochure won’t win many customers. A website that features unfocused content probably won’t develop into a popular destination.
Words still do matter.