Say it right, and write it with style
Posted on 18th February 2013 by Clare Granville
In the spirit of London Fashion Week, I thought I’d write about style. Writing styles that is. I’ll leave Gucci S/S 2104 to the experts.
Writing styles change all the time and if I look back through my life I have encountered Latin through studying law, Middle English when studying Chaucer, the government’s definition of modern English when I was at school, and “txt spk”.
In the modern world, we also have to contend with different writing formats such as Tweets, Facebook updates, Linkedin messages and blogs. We might not think about it too much when we’re talking to our family and friends, but this is having a profound impact on B2B communications and it made me think about the importance of choosing the right writing style for every occasion.
The word “choosing” is important here, as there should be a conscious decision about how best to communicate with your audience via a particular format to achieve your objectives. For example, how do you say something worthwhile in 140 characters or less that is likely to be shared and followed? And how do you communicate the same message in a blog that is going to reveal your personality whilst also positioning you as an expert and thought leader?
These considerations might sound trivial, but they can make or break your PR strategy and these days you only get one chance. If the journalist or prospect you’re speaking to doesn’t value what you’re saying, chances are they’re going to go and do one of the 20,000 other things on their to do list today and follow what someone else is saying. You also run the risk of looking out of touch with modern media, which isn’t great for any company – whether you’re an IT consultant or not.
Now, because of the proliferation of mobile devices and IM-style conversations, you need to be an expert in adapting your writing style for different occasions. In other words, you need to be able to say the same thing, for different audiences, in 140 characters or less, a pithy sound bite, a short comment, a chatty blog and a professional article. Harnessing this skill will ensure that you stay relevant and interesting to your audience, so remember:
- Make a conscious decision about your writing style.
- Understand what you’re trying to achieve.
- Know your audience e.g. don’t tell people what they already know.
- Add value; don’t repeat what everyone else is saying.
- Match your tone and vocabulary to the format and audience.
- Say what you need to say, and then stop.