Concerns about decreasing attention spans, largely from technology, social media and multitasking, can send communication folks into a spiral. Is video really taking over written content? Has technology made writing obsolete?
I would argue a resounding NO! GOOD writing is more important than ever. And on the other hand, poor writing could be costing businesses billions of dollars a year.
Take email as an example – managers often must compose responses to bosses, employees or customers without the review of a communications professional. And they often compose email or social media posts in a hurry. That's because technology has not only shortened our attention spans, but created a sense of immediacy in all communication.
Consider these points about the relevancy of writing:
That trend toward video and other visual communications? Videos – even live ones—are better when scripted. Even if a spontaneous approach is taken, business videos need some writing for introduction or to bring home the point being made. For example, your company might want to post a live video on Facebook showing your booth and participation in a major industry trade show. If it's live, it's spontaneous. But a writer should script all or most of the narration, even if that means listing key points the speaker should be sure to address.
Infographics present their own writing challenges. Images take up more volume than words, but the few words included are amplified in importance. Writing skills help ensure proper grammar and punctuation before an expensive color graphic goes to production. Writing skills also help produce a message in as few words as necessary. Words and visuals must support one another.
To engage customers on social media, you must connect and tell a story. A funny video might draw customers in, but surely it links to more information. Key words matter, but so does quality of content and time readers spend on pages or click through deeper into a site. High-engagement content such as quizzes or user polls, like infographics, condenses words. This makes good writing more essential.
Writing should be unique. Customers can spot form letters and many visitors to websites can spot pages created by content mills. To truly connect with any audience and encourage engagement, you need quality, unique content. That means you need quality writing.
Instant communication also requires that subject matter experts respond. For example, if the news reports on a topic that could severely affect your business, you need a subject matter expert to respond. The expert might be in packaging, sales, engineering or research, for example. Although it's good to team these folks up with communications and marketing pros, sometimes that's not feasible. So, teach anyone who communicates with your customers and public by email, social media or good old-fashioned letters how to write.
If you want to improve your business writing, along with the writing of key people in your organization, ask us how Business Writing That Counts! can help. Just give us a call: 425-485-3221.