What’s your style?

I love Claire Kittle’s Talent Market emails!

SPN AM_gift bags2_2016-10They’re clever, well-written, and illustrated. Each contains a message beyond “here are jobs,” a message that inspires. Mind you, I’m not even looking for a job.

Each piece of outgoing text, image, or sound conveys more than its elements; it also broadcasts what sort of organization yours is. It says either, “This is from us” and is worth reading, or it says, “Yeah, I threw this together, but you need to join our effort, anyway.”

Do you know how to deal with phrases, words, ideas, punctuation, and appearance so that any communication from your team looks professional, bursting with message, and similar? Your brand is not only in your logo. It’s also in the look, feel, and focus of what you write.

So here are a few facets to consider: 

  • edited text1Is your writing always proofread before it’s released? By someone else?
  • Do the images and sounds you use fit your organizational image?
  • Do you know your mission and vision by heart, and do you work it into your text, however obliquely?
  • Have you written down a goal for this communication, right at the top, so you can keep that in mind as you create?
  • Are you humble?
  • Does your piece flow logically?
  • Is it only as long as it needs to be?

And a few facts:

  • Find your organization’s style sheet for text writing, appearance, graphical items, and brand identifiers. Use it.
  • Be clear.
  • Be declarative.
  • Speak in the active voice.
  • Know about hyphens, en- and em-dashes, apostrophes, and quotation marks. Oxford comma on no? Nonprofit or non-profit? Joe Smith, President or Joe Smith, president? There’s latitude here, so consult that style sheet.MSS
  • Check your spelling and idioms. How embarrassing to say “We’re on a role” when you mean you’re “on a roll.”
  • Avoid the trite, but don’t go too far afield. Sometimes, just use the ordinary phrase.
  • Names and titles: look them up – again. Get them right.
  • Beware of fancy language and any modifier. Your XY Institute didn’t “work really hard to put on a tremendously awesome free-speech event last week.” It held a free-speech event on the Mall.
  • Finish editing by reading through the text solely to cut out extra words. “…for the purpose of trying to connect…” might become “…and we connected.”
  • The devil’s in the detail: did you accidentally write “2016” when you meant “2017” or gloss over an artifact from a previous version?

And remember, it’s not the writing (or drawing or filming) that separates a good piece of communications from a useless one: it’s the rewriting, fine-tuning, and editing.

What you say – beyond the words and images – is what they “get.”

Want to discuss organizational communications style more? Let us know! Lani@SparkFreedom.org