The rise of Ron Burgundy in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues reminds me of a toolkit I have tucked away in my office. It’s a media relations guide. From 1983.
Although the process and tools of the trade may have changed in the last 30 years, one thing has stayed the same for communicators…the need for basic, solid writing skills.
Despite new ways to reach your members and consumers, the ability to write well and convey a clear and consistent message is essential. That Facebook post (and yes, even a tweet) should be written professionally, using correct grammar. The whitepaper or e-book must draw people in and hold their attention. Invitations, newsletters, blog posts, annual reports, and product sheets have their own tone, but that doesn’t mean you can skimp on the writing.
People notice poor writing, and it doesn’t help your brand. According to Media Bistro, a pet peeve among consumers is poor spelling and grammar from brands using social media. Although this study only involves social media, consumers notice poor writing in traditional marketing and advertising too.
To make sure you don’t annoy any consumers, here are three easy tips to increase your writing skills:
- Own an AP Stylebook. AP Style is a guide for grammar, punctuation and principles and practices of reporting. It is used by journalists, magazines and public relations and marketing firms. According to the AP Stylebook, numbers below 10 are spelled out, the period goes inside the quotes, and as of three years ago, Web site is now website and there’s no hyphen in email.
- Go easy on the excitement. When did we start overusing the exclamation point? A recent Inc.com article indicated you should only use two or three exclamation points per 100,000 words. That means if you are writing a book, you should use one exclamation point every book and a half. So before you hit Shift + 1, ask yourself if that annual golf tournament is really that exciting.
- Get to the point. Use simple words. People do not have a lot of time to read, especially if your content is filled with industry jargon.
You don’t have to be the next William Shakespeare to incorporate good writing. Simple words, correct use of punctuation and some knowledge of AP Style can go far in your writing.