business writing ideas from Word Constructions      

 

 

welcome to the Word Constructions business ideas newsletterChristmas holly decoration

Hello {name}! Welcome to the December edition of business writing ideas from Word Constructions!

The times they are a changin'. We will have a carbon tax next year, employer super rates are likely to increase while the co-contribution decreases, smart phones and mobile internet access is becoming the norm and social media is giving people a united voice on various topics. 2012 is just around the corner - have you thought about what that means for your business?

Currently I am working on a number of major documents for clients (which inspired today's communications article!) which means I am doing a lot of managing with spurts of intense work in between waiting for feedback and designer drafts. One document I am writing for AvSuper was almost done but more Government proposals (such as increasing the superannuation age to 75) mean I have some more ediitng to do. It is interesting to see changes introduced and thinking about their potntial impact on people.

I am really enjoying being part of the Twitter conversation now - it is a great way to learn things, find useful resources and connect with some fantastic people. The quick messages are easy to read but can be surprisingly thought provoking at times. I also find it help sme undertand and remember information when I share it on Twitter (for example, when I attend webinars I often tweet useful points). Facebook, on the other hand, I am finding less rewarding on a professional level. What do you think - is one social platform working better for your business and professional life? Which do you prefer using?

Until next time, use your words wisely and have a Merry Christmas,

Tash

PS To kickstart 2012 for your business, grab my website communciations review at 10% off if booked by 16 December.

Recent blog posts you may find useful:Word Constructions eBooks

aim your content at your target
No to under constructions sites
don't over generalise
doing the same thing for how long?
being a leader


Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.Word Constructions' Christmas Elf presenting blog posts
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
~ Oren Arnold


business communications article by Tash Hughes Christmas holly decoration

Planning major documents
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

Whether you are preparing the docuemtn yourself or have somehting else managing it for you, it is important to plan a document, epecially if you ahve specific deadlinesto meet. It is very easy to think you have plenty of time and then find yourself rushed at the end which usually results in a lower quality result.

So some points to consider when planning a communciations project are:

  • what is the deadline? Aim to be finished a few days ahead of that so you have a buffer against delays
  • if it needs to be printed, allow time for that to occur - a week is a minimum for bigger documents but two weeks allows for the printer being busy
  • make sure you give your designer (if relevant) time to work on each draft - even if it is only an hour's work they are likely to have other projects underway so may not get it back to you for three days
  • who needs to review the document? Make sure you allow time for these reviews - even more time if they won't be reviewing at the same time. Most reviewers will need to see an important document at least twice - to give initial feedback and then to sign off a late draft; if the early draft is good enough to not need a second review, you can take it as bonus time!
  • what has to happen to the completed document? Do you need a web friendly version and adjusted web content to publish it? Does it have to be delivered soemwhere by a specific time - factor that into timelines, too
  • work backwards from the deadline and make a schedule for the project. This lets you see if you are on track but also gives people a chance to book time in advance which increases your chances of people giving feedback and revisions quickly
  • allow yourself time, too. I give myself time to consoldiate client feedback before handing edits to a designer and time to check the designer caught all the edits before providing to my client.
  • save yourself time and stress by giving your designer your style guide and a clear brief

Love Santa personalised letters
Every year I am honoured to help Santa write to Australian children - each personalised letter includes a small gift and some activity ideas


don't forget the basicsChristmas holly decoration

Using semi colons
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

A semi colon (;) provides a break in a sentence that is more than a comma and less than a full stop. Words sepaarted by a semi colon have a connection but not linked in one idea.

There are two main uses for a semi colon. It can separate related clauses rather than making them distinct sentences or linking them with a conjunction (and, but, or) which can create a better flow to your writing. An example will be useful; theory alone doesn't always lead to a clear understanding.

Semi colons are also used in a list started by a colon or if list items are complex enough to include commas. When preparing a business document it is important to check for correct spelling and grammar; a flow of ideas thorugh the content; correct use of tense, point of view and possesive terms; ensure imagery, layout,fonts, colours and diagramsare appropriate and do not give any alternative messages.

Traditionally, semi colons were used at the end of each item in a bullet list. However, this is now uncommon as msot writers and businesses take a minimalist approach to punctuation; it is not technically wrong to do so but looks cluttered and old fashioned.



I've had gretat service and support from this host for clients - being green is a great bonus!


poor examplesChristmas holly decoration

Sometimes, the easiest way to learn the correct way to do something is to see it done poorly so in this section of my newsletter, I show you some real-life examples of writing that need a little help.

Today's example is a 'reminder' letter we received from an optical shop visited once about two years ago. Before even seeing the errors below, the address section removed any credibility from the message - it looked like:

Mr John Suburb
10 Streetname dive
Suburb

Obviously no one bothered to check address details were entered correctly (dive instead of drive isn't a good look!).

Example:

We've missed you
... as a valued customer; we don't want you to miss out...
{brand} is the "world's most lightweight frames^" and offers great wearing comfort.
And with the modularity of the {brand} range, individual parts will let you piece your glasses together according to your liking.
Make the most of your optical extras cover+
...
*...The offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other

Issues with this example:

Given how much of the letter I have incldued, there are obviously a number of issues with this letter which is not going to help them get people back (especially those who haven't purchased anything in the past!) So I'll list issues in point form:

  • poor punctuation throughout the letter, starting with no full stop at the end of the first and last sentences. A semi colon (;) in the middle of a sentence has broken the meaning completely - 'as a valued customer' needs to say something but the semi colon stops the link to 'we don't want you to miss out'
  • not getting plural/singular matched up - 'it is..frames and offers' should be 'they are ... frames and offer' or 'it is one of... frames and offers'
  • the letter content refers to four footnoe symbols (*, ^ and + twice) however the footnotes only include * - very poor attention to detail that can confuse and frustrate readers
  • the footnote finished mid sentnce - we can guess the missing words but as a set of terms it isn't a good idea to leave it open to people's interpretation so there's a legal risk as well as looking unprofessional
  • unsuitable terms - 'piece your glasses together' sounds like doing a jigsaw or a repair job which is not what I want in a new pair of glassess. 'Design your own glasses' or 'mix and match arms and frames' would do better without negative sub messages. Surely there are not that mamy aspects to a pair of glasses that could be chosen anyway (frames and arms are all I can think of)?
  • not using language that is easy to read and relate to - how often do you talk about 'modularity'? Keep thigns simple rather than trying to sound modern or intellectual as it often backfires and looks silly and pretty much always makes your message harder to read. "And as {brand} comes in modules...' may be longer but it is simpler. LIkewise, 'This offer can't be used with any other' is simpler yet gives the same message 'in conjunction with'.
  • lack of clarity in phrasing - 'according to your liking' is complicated, awkward and doesn't read (silently or out loud) easily. Alternatives include 'as you like',' to suit your taste', 'according to your preferences' (although this is long and pompous!) and 'however you like'.

An improved version would be: (without changing the apparent intent or style)

We've missed you!
...as a valued customer, we don't want you to miss out...
{brand} glasses have the world's lightest frames^ and are very comfortable to wear.
{brand} glasses come as individual parts so you can mix and match to make glasses that you like.
Make the most of your optical extras cover
...
*... This offer can't be used with any other offers. ^ Based on {relevant data}.


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2011, Tash Hughes