When you’re writing for your audiences it can be hard to get the right tone. Louise Manico from Manico PR has written a blog to give you some top writing tips to help make sure your communications are getting noticed.
Using the right words to speak to your audiences
During the Social Enterprise City Festival, there were three interlinking workshops covering reporting your social impact, identifying the marketable impact of this and who to tell, and finally how to tell them. I was lucky enough to lead the final workshop of this set, but if you missed it, here are some of the main things you might want to consider.
Why are the right words important?
Think about who you speak to and how you speak to them – you probably use different language during that Zoom quiz with your friends than you do with your boss or your GP, for example. We naturally adjust our language in normal conversation to build a better connection with the person we’re talking to, but this sometimes changes when it comes to putting it in writing.
However, using language your audience is familiar with helps you to build that rapport regardless of where and how they come across it.
Identifying your audience
This is the first step to deciding how you’re going to communicate your message. While there are lots of ways to do this, one easy way is to think about your ideal customer and flesh out their identity. What are their hobbies and interests? Why do they care about your product? What are their levels of academic interest or knowledge? Where do they tend to look for information (social media, websites, newspapers, etc)?
Then think about what you want to tell them. Does the reason they care align with what you think they should know? Are you trying to entertain, inform or campaign? This should help you decide how you’d like to frame your message – however important your information is, if it doesn’t hit the right note with your audience, they’re unlikely to read or listen to the whole thing.
Choose your words carefully
Once you’ve identified what you want to tell your audience and why, you’re ready to start writing. Before you put pen to paper, you should know whether it’s:
- Formal or informal
- Good or bad news
- Light-hearted or serious
- Short social media update or long funding paper
Whatever you’re writing, it should still be in line with your other pieces of communication. Although you’re aiming for a particular audience, people should recognise your brand wherever they come across it, from a Facebook status to a Board report.
This may sound contradictory when you’ve just spent time thinking about how to address a particular group, but whoever you’re talking to and whatever you’re saying, you’re always talking to people. Keep this in mind and your writing should sound authentic and be accessible to everyone.
General writing tips
While people are generally understanding of the fact that not all organisations have Marketing and PR teams creating everything you send out, taking care of how you present yourself pays dividends. If your writing is littered with spelling and grammar mistakes, your audience will assume you haven’t taken much care – and if you don’t care about how your own organisation is perceived, it’s unlikely you’re going to care about their needs.
Here are some tips to polish up your writing:
- Be clear and concise
- People are time-short – make it as easy as possible for them to get the information they need
- Put the most important information at the top
- Again, people sometimes don’t have the time, or don’t want to spend the time, reading a full article. Similarly, newsrooms don’t always have the column inches to give to your story. In both circumstances, making your writing top-heavy makes sure that the most important details are likely to be read and absorbed
- Use the active voice
- This makes your writing livelier and more engaging. Try to use phrasing where something is being done by someone, rather than having it done to them. It’s easier to explain with an example: ‘The boy caught the ball’ is an active sentence, whereas ‘The ball was caught by the boy’ isn’t.
- Use Plain English
- Avoid using convoluted communication when unornamented alternatives will suffice. Keep it simple.
- Check your spelling and grammar
- As mentioned above, taking the time to check shows you care, and this is a reflection on your whole organisation
- Check your spelling and grammar again
- Even better, get someone else to check it. There are also a lot of online tools you can use for advice; I particularly like Quick and Dirty Tips.
Giving yourself time to think about what you need to write in advance will help with this – it’s easier to avoid mistakes when you’re not in a rush, and a communications plan will allow you to think ahead.
I hope these top writing tips have been useful, there is obviously so much more that can be discussed, but this overview should give you a good starting point.
Don’t forget, if you are a PSEN member and would like some help or advice, you can book a free 1-2-1 session which is fully funded by PSEN