Tips from Writing Coaches

By Sue Stoney

While many of us IABCers write for a living, it’s always fun to learn some new tricks of the trade. Several of our chapter’s top writing coaches and communication consultants came together on Jan. 18, 2017 at Impact Hub in Oakland for an SF IABC Independent Communicators’ Roundtable meeting to share tips and best practices.

Here are some of the top takeaways from that meeting:

Tip 1

Balance Personal Ownership with Team Effort for Every Writing Project

In her seminal work, The Progress Principle, Dr. Teresa Amabile tells us that employees’ primary motivation is to be involved in meaningful work and regularly make progress in it.

Collaborative writing will produce a stronger end product than if a single person were writing … provided every contributor comes from a place of personal strength. Approach an inter-departmental effort with a “re-use, re-purpose, re-cycle” mentality. This ensures an appropriate primary “authorial voice.”

Ask yourself at every stage: How does my subject matter expertise interrelate with others’?

Tip 2

For Every Writing Project, Always Answer 3 Questions

  • Who is going to read this?
  • Why are we writing this now?
  • How does this communication contribute to the company’s bottom line?

The answers to these questions will help determine:

  • What we expect readers to do
  • Whose authorial voice should dominate
  • Whether we are writing from scratch or rewriting (each requires different skills)
  • How we can incorporate the expertise of a language and messaging subject matter expert (SME) on the project

The dollar sign in the middle of the triangle graphic reminds us that the content we produce must connect to the bottom line.

Tip 3

Build Your Business through Content Marketing

Writing about the business in our field of expertise is called content marketing.

Content is the stuff you know that helps sell your company’s products and services. It is about what you do every day. Marketing is the way you let people in on the expertise you and your company have that they need.

If the content and marketing are perfectly matched, people will see you, not as Willy Loman with his foot caught in their door trying to sell them something they don’t want or need, but as a knowledge leader who offers them what they are willing to pay for.

Make your writing the best it can be. Include graphics that capture the essence of the words. Use a thesaurus to make the sharpest word choices you can. Have what you’ve written read by at least one other person. Re-read it yourself before you hit “publish,” “send” or “post.”

Are you one of those people who doesn’t see the importance of edit review? Consider the story of a typo that cost someone six figures in an eBay auction. The full version of the story is on the Six Degrees website, but here’s the short form:

An eBay auction for a 155-year-old bottle of Allsopp’s Arctic Ale was missing the second “p” in the brewer’s brand name. As a result, it garnered only two unique offers, the winning one being $304. You might think that was good money for a single bottle of beer — until you hear that the revised post, with an updated description correctly spelling the brand name, caused a bidding war, and the owner who paid that $304 accepted a final offer of more than half a million dollars.

If you’d like to read more writing tips discussed at this ICR meeting, you can see the full version of this article on my website.

Don’t miss our next Independent Communicators’ Roundtable meeting, Aug. 23, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. “Using Authenticity as Your Brand Differentiator” features our former SF IABC president “Coach Kamna” Narain in an interactive workshop that explores how being authentic supports success in the workplace — for independents and in-house business communicators.

Learn more and purchase tickets on the SF IABC website. See you there.

Sue Stoney is a writer, editor and writing coach. For more than 20 years in the corporate world and as an independent communicator, Sue has helped many people develop content and write the stories that contribute to their business bottom line.

Comments

  1. Great article, Sue.

    I wish I’d made the meeting, and, considering what we do, it would be worth repeating.

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