On the Record: Written Communication
February 27, 2017
President Trump's recent tweet that the media is not his enemy, but the enemy of the American people was disappointing. As a former journalist and a current communication strategist, his characterization of an entire profession undermined what might have been a valid point. Today's media can run with a story, frequently without sourcing it, and then abandon it just as quickly.
But that does not mean we should fear or dismiss the media. It means we have an opportunity to provide greater insight and assistance. So, while there may be a presidential war with the media, we suggest you continue to reach out and use them to help tell your story. They have stories to write, space to use, and time to fill. If the media calls you - take the time to be well prepared. If you have made a misstep or a mistake - acknowledge it and move forward. And if you have taken a lot of time to prepare for the media interview - use the same information or write a release, story or blog post and place it on your owned platforms.
Today, organizations are producing so much more content than ever before, so it can be overwhelming. My colleague, Jordan Rose, writes a lot of content for our clients, and she shares some of her suggestions on how to strengthen your craft. Have a great week.
What it takes to be on par with your audience?
I was a member of the golf team during college. When I think about writing for different audiences, I can often relate it to that experience. As a competitive golfer, you need different clubs, skills and knowledge to be successful on the course. The same is true when writing. Depending on your audience, you have to do things differently so your message plays effectively.
1. Know your audience
Understanding your audience is the first step in developing any form of communication. On the course, it's the equivalent of checking the yardage, pin placement and weighing weather conditions to select the appropriate club. On paper, it's who are you communicating with? Do you know the demographics and interests of your audience? Develop a link between yourself and the audience. To do so, you have to understand the world from your readers' perspective and find common ground.
2. Don't bury the lead
Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, chance you have to make an impression on your reader. If you don't grab the audience's attention from the start, it may prevent them from getting to the heart of your message. Burying the lead is similar to shanking your drive, it puts you in a tough position to make par - or to reconnect with your audience.
3. Tone and approach matter
Considering how you will communicate is nearly as important as the message you share. Will this be used as a news release or a blog post? How formal or casual does the tone need to be? Do you want the media to pick this up for tomorrow's paper? Answering these questions will help you engage the right audience and utilize the best platform to communicate your message.
4. Be authentic and transparent
Being authentic is an important part of communication, regardless of whether it's in-person, through written communication or online. This means playing your own game and focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. For me, that equates to playing it safe down the fairway and relying on my short game to make up strokes on the green. In writing, it means using language that mirrors your organization's voice and actions. Keep in mind, business decisions shape the way we are able to communicate. Today, with technology at our fingertips, it's never been easier for consumers to fact-check our statements. That's why it's never been more important to share accurately and timely information.
All in all, practice makes perfect. Written communication is a craft that requires repetition, thought and attention to detail. By keeping these important components in mind, you are already on your way to effective communication.
Jordan Rose, Communications Advisor
Good communication is good business. Effective communication creates a competitive advantage in today's world. Our team is here to help you.
Wixted & Company is a strategic communication, crisis management, and training firm. For more than 25 years, our team has been providing strategic communication training and counsel to clients across the country. We pride ourselves on being exceptional communication trainers and long-range communication strategists.