The importance of good writing

Thu, 10/12/2015 - 15:03

“REMINDER: Media is Invites to a Press Conference to be Addressed by CIC Julius Malema, Today, 12h00, at the EFF HQ”

To many people, the use of the wrong tense could easily be forgiven as a typo. They probably won’t even give much thought to the capitalisation of the word “addressed” in this tweet.

However, it should be borne in mind that this announcement was intended for the media, men and women who have made a career out of words. As such, the manager of the EFF’s Twitter account should have double-checked what was posted, even if posting the reminder was a matter of urgency.

Errare humanum est said Seneca the Younger, and of course humans do make mistakes. But in today’s digital age, where everything comes under the microscope on a scale never before seen in history, good writing can be the difference between leaving a lasting or horrendous impression on the reader.

Just because a tweet comprises a paltry 140 characters does not mean it should be loosely written. Obviously hashtags are a commonality in tweets, but what is posted thereafter should be concise and impactful – and importantly, free of any grammatical errors.

Of course social media is only one aspect of writing, albeit a very public one.

In business, written correspondence between companies and clients is ongoing. While invariably friendly relationships do develop and there is a temptation to engage more informally, it is one that is best resisted.

In situations where large sums of money are being exchanged, relationships can quickly sour if one or other of the parties is feeling aggrieved. Professionally-written, accurate correspondence sends the message that the company means business. Literally.

That is not to say that the company is being aloof or standoffish; it simply indicates that it prides itself on relaying factually-correct information in a way that the client can easily understand. Customers and clients don’t want to be friends; they want maximum returns on what they’re paying for. Consequently, they respect professionalism above all else.

Long form writing, or the articles about a company that find their way into the regional, national or international press, are the Holy Grail of corporate writing. Having a beautifully-written piece placed in or on a reputed publication or website gives the company maximum exposure.

The fact that editors of these platforms would consider the articles good enough to place alongside their own features says much about the corporate writer, and odds are that they would be more than open to accept such content in the future.

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