Articles Tagged with write

That’s what I said last time and the time before

Do you ever stop to think about what you’ve said or written?

That's what I said | Thinking outside the box

Or do you stop to think about what other people think about what you’ve said or written?

Did they find it interesting or did their eyes glaze over?

Most people use popular phrases or clichés and I know I sometimes catch myself using them.

I try not to use clichés such as ‘thinking outside of the box’, but do find myself thinking about them.

Putting clichés into practice

I am often amused by the thought of applying clichés in everyday life.

Why do I need to think ‘outside the box’? How do I think ‘inside the box’?

I could pretend the photo opposite depicts me experimenting to find out what thinking ‘inside the box’ is like, but it doesn’t. It was a box I couldn’t resist climbing into.

Keeping it fresh

Does it matter that we use clichés or industry jargon? It’s easy to plant a ready-made phrase in a sentence in a press release or other text.

I find the difficulty is in having to read them. If we’re not careful, recycling what we speak or write can become a habit. If lots of other people also develop this habit, press releases written by businesses in our sector could all read the same.

This does happen and it’s tedious to read them as a journalist. It’s a joy when a press release arrives that is fresh, lively and imaginative. I want to will the writer’s words on to the printed page of the newspaper. They deserve it.

Sounding original

If you look back over your text and cut any clichés you spot, think about expressing thoughts differently, make it more interesting, you’re more likely to attract interest.

You could give a new twist to an issue, different to what everyone else is saying. You might even develop a new view of the issue by thinking of it differently.

I could ask if that is ‘thinking outside of the box’, but to me that expression is stale and unoriginal.

Perhaps I’ll stay in my box and think it through.

What do you think?

How many words should I write for a press release?

As many as you need to tell the story and no more.

A short, punchy press release can sometimes cover all its news in 200-300 words, while a story needing more detail could run to 500 words or so.

What is important is that every word counts. If sentences ramble or contain incidental information that does not add much to the story, they could obscure the main message you want to get across.

Is there an absolute limit? No, although a longer press release must be enthralling or contain ground-breaking news to work. If it waffles or is stuffed with words and phrases that don’t move the story on, much is likely to be cut if a journalist has managed to read it all.

The test is to ask what every sentence or piece of information contributes. If it contributes nothing, cut it.

Write clearly to avoid the reality gap

Sometimes we can spend too much time worrying about the latest Google update, smartphone or OS version and forget that effective communication – for that’s what all these tools are there to support – often needs to be clear and simple.

This runs throughout our lives, as I found when I was booked into my local hospital for a medical procedure. I had a preparatory appointment with a nurse to brief me and took home a leaflet giving detailed instructions. I also had a preparation to start taking on the day before the procedure.

On that day, I found some of the information from the nurse, the leaflet and on the box containing the preparation conflicted. It was a Sunday so I used my common sense to work out the problem: a minor niggle that didn’t matter much.

I was getting concerned because the leaflet said the procedure would take 30-40 minutes to complete and, knowing that it was likely to be uncomfortable and that sedation would not knock me out completely, I braced myself for this mentally. I felt it was going to be tough. As it turned out, just before my turn the doctor mentioned that he was timing each procedure for a study and that the average time was 6-7 minutes: I breathed a sigh of relief.

I am glad to say the procedure was quick, painless and the results were fine. However, I had approached it in completely the wrong frame of mind as a result of the details in the leaflet.

Such gaps between perception and reality can be created by any written instructions. Whether we’re selling a flat-pack wardrobe, an electrical gadget or a holiday, it can be easy to plant the wrong impression in a customer’s mind. Once planted, that seed can grow into a dream or worry that bears no relation to the real product, service or experience.

For businesses selling products and services, this can create unrealistic expectations, impossible to deliver; for doctors it can cause unnecessary worry in patients.

Consistency and clarity are essential when writing instructions or descriptions. Not only do they prevent confusion and wrong impressions, they help to create happy customers . . . and patients.

Why start at the end when producing long documents?

What’s the best time to manage production of a long document? All too frequently, reverse engineering is required when questions that should have been asked before writing started are asked just before the document is due to go to print.

What style do we want? How can we manage content written by multiple authors? Do we need consistency in how industry terms are written? Does it make sense?

A style guide and an active editor can manage all this.

When all these questions are addressed at the beginning, they can guide contributors to write in the desired style and put in place a process to manage production and flag any problems before it’s too late. Brand names can be written correctly, capitals used consistently and the document can appear as a unified article that makes sense rather than many separate ones joined together in confusion.

Does it matter?

Yes, if you want to get the best value from all the resources invested. If employees are putting a lot of time into writing and if money is being spent on design, printing and distribution, I’d want to see the most effective document possible. Most importantly, I’d want a document that was useful to readers and gave them value.

Where this doesn’t happen, many things have to be corrected at the last minute. Rather than polishing the material, it has to be patched so that it is at best ‘satisfactory’.

You can find tips and advice on managing long documents at editorialresources.co.uk.

Are they interested in what you’re interested in?

When you’ve got something you want to tell the rest of the world, it’s easy to rattle on enthusiastically about what you find interesting, usually something of great value to your business. But how do you know if a journalist or editor will find it interesting too?

Even large organisations and public relations agencies sometimes forget to ask this.

A call to a journalist, if they’re accessible, can confirm what, if anything, will interest them in your story, while familiarity with a publication can help you to tailor your press release, article or other news snippet to its specific readership.

If you’re managing your own PR, you can do this yourself. If you pay an agency, make sure that they are tailoring releases to targeted media.

It’s worth doing, as if you’re going to send out press releases, or pay someone else to write and send them out, you’ll get better value for money if your news has a chance of actually being published.

Posted via web from z2zine

Zarywacz enters 15th year of business

I woke up this morning . . . so the song goes . . . and realised that we were entering our 15th year in business.

Phew! Quite a lot has changed over the past 14 years: I remember Simon and I discussing the internet back in the 1990s and how to prepare ourselves to take advantage of it. From taking an Adobe PageMill (remember that?) course, which turned into an html course, Simon built our first web site, which led to my then neighbours commissioning him to build a web site for their international travel magazine.

Now we use the internet and mobile communications without even thinking about what benefits we gain from them. They enabled me to move home and office from the densely populated and business-rich Thames Valley to beautiful and sparsely-populated North Devon. I still write, edit and proofread for clients across the UK and abroad too. It really doesn’t matter where we are located.

So we enter another year with great uncertainty in the economy. With governments nearly always causing more problems than they solve, it’s up to businesses to work our way out of the gloom they have inspired in the media.

Business is not always easy, but we’ve been here for 14 years and we’re preparing to be around for a while longer.

Visit www.z2z.com to see what we aim to be doing for clients in the years ahead.

Variety is the spice of life . . .

. . . and it certainly keeps us on our toes.

Recently, we have been commissioned to write a wide range of material from a short film script for an estate agency to magazines, radio talks and press releases.

On a personal note, I have been asked to write some comedy sketches for a theatrical review show.

At least it keeps our brains ticking over.

Robert Zarywacz

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