The good news is that businesses are always looking for writers to work on their website copy, media releases, annual reports or special projects. Even better news is that the skills you have as a writer and a storyteller are easily transferred to the business environment.
Freelancing for a PR agency, or an industry trade magazine, is a great way for a writer to make a lucrative career – it offers variety, and a chance to meet great people.
Here are 10 tips to help you make the most of your business writing skills
- Get the right information. Your client has the experience of his brand. You have the skills as a writer. Treat each meeting with the client as a way to interview him and his team – you need to find out what they do, why they do it, and what they want from their communication and media plan.
- Format focus. Often a client will rely on you to help find the best format for their stories. Newsworthy and immediate? Probably a press release. An edgy and interesting story? Write it as an exclusive article. Don’t forget you can tweak a press release or opinion piece to become a blog post or tweet for social media.
- Back it up. Don’t say a company is ‘exceptional’ or ‘a market leader’ – back it up with facts. Mention their profit, awards won, or the accounts they work on. Facts replace adjectives – and have more meaning.
- Keep in simple. The principles of plain language must always be applied. Keep the sentences and paragraphs short. Simplify the text as much as possible. Avoid business jargon words – if you can’t avoid them, at least limit the amount you use.
- Keep it short. When it comes to press releases, opinion pieces, blogs and updates, try to get your message across in as few a words as possible. Clients often think longer means more important – but it really isn’t.
- Quote me on that. Just as in fiction, use a lot ‘dialogue’. Quote the speaker and his designation in the piece. This is a great way for the client’s message to come through in a clear, distilled way.
- Step in style. Find out the ‘personality’ of the business you’re writing for by looking at their website or social media sites. Try to keep your writing style aligned to their vision and values.
- Stand out in the market. Find an angle to the story people haven’t heard before. Make it fresh and relevant. Don’t be afraid to tackle a controversial issue in the client’s industry.
- Stay in the background. You need to be objective and let the client’s brand or business message come true. Resist raising your own opinions on the subject. You’re the medium for the client’s message.
- Start strong, finish strong. Spend time refining your opening and closing paragraphs. Make sure the beginning and end dovetail and you’ve made your strongest points in these two elements.
If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme.
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