Pierce is joined by Daniel Drolet, a previous journalist for national news agencies and major daily newspapers. Today, he’s a communications consultant, where he writes speeches and communications materials for business leaders.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
1) What it means to produce good writing.
2) How writing is an undervalued skill.
3) How journalism has changed in the last couple of decades.
According to Daniel, good writing looks effortless, and that can make it an undervalued skill. It’s likely why marketers sometimes feel like they can take care of copy on their campaigns – even if they would never dream of attempting to create the design. As a journalist turned communications advisor, Daniel has covered a lot of ground with his writing, and to him, the secret to good writing is understanding the subject matter. If you don’t understand what you’re writing about, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to create something that’s understandable to the reader.
“What you have to figure out, really quickly, is what’s important. That is the starting process. Once you figure out what’s important about something, then everything else flows. From that important thing, you’ll know what happens next and what you have to communicate next.”
So often, in business writing – whether it’s in a PowerPoint presentation or in a thought leadership blog – we bury the lede. We take a narrative approach that builds up to a reveal. With today’s limited attention spans, doing that puts you at risk of losing your audience before they get the information you wanted them to get. Start with giving them the news, then build the context around that.
For marketers looking for a writer to support them with their blogs, emails, or social media campaigns, Daniel has some advice. Ask them pointed questions around what style guides they use, how they feel about American vs. British spelling, and which way they lean when talking about the Oxford comma. Then, get someone you trust to evaluate raw, unedited samples of their writing. Combined, these two steps should give you a good idea of whether you want this skill set on your team or not.
Daniel and Pierce close off the conversation with a review of how the journalism space has changed, particularly with the onset of the internet and social media. According to Daniel, social media has decimated the space, making it much harder for people to identify where they’re getting their news from – and if it even is news. It’s more important than ever for people to be conscientious about what they’re consuming.
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