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Happy New Year!
As we say farewell to 2021, let’s resolve to use these writing best practices in 2022:
- Master a better writing process.
Want to write better, easier and faster? You may need to unlearn the writing process you were taught in school. Most of us learned to think of what to write, write it down and get it right — all at the same time.
But if you’ll break that practice into three steps — prewrite, write and rewrite — then you’ll soon be writing better, easier and faster.
- Engage readers with social posts.
“Our readers don’t want to read stories,” writes Brian J. O’Conner, editor of bankrate.com. “What they want is a big button they can push that says, ‘Solve my problem.’ It’s up to us to be that button.”
Keep this in mind when developing story ideas and angles for blog posts, content-marketing pieces and other social posts.
- Reach nonreaders with words.
“Readers” read, on average, 20% of the words on a webpage, according to the Nielsen Norman Group. So how do you reach nonreaders with words?
Pass The Skim Test. Make sure that readers can get the gist of your message without reading a single paragraph. That means embedding key messages in headlines, decks, subheads, links, lists, bold-faced lead-ins and other display copy.
- Front-load your web heads.
On search engine results pages, newsrooms and other story lists, people read only the first couple of words of your headline. If they don’t get your key idea, then chances are, they won’t click.
So draw readers in by front-loading your web headlines. Move the topic to the top of your headline so readers get the gist of your message in the first 11 characters.
- Make messages colorful with concrete details.
Fun facts and juicy details might seem like the Cheez Doodles and Cronuts of communication: tempting, for sure, but a little childish and not particularly good for you.
In fact, concrete, colorful details boost understanding, increase credibility, help people remember your message and move people to act. Add these nutritious ingredients to every piece you write.
- Don’t quote every VP in your news release.
Quote to communicate opinion, emotion or controversy; to give a human voice to your message; and to change the pace of your release.
- Make sure you’re not saying, “This is too easy to read.”
Said nobody ever. Nobody wants it to be harder. Use free online tools like HemingwayApp to measure, monitor, manage and improve readability.
Do this for all of your audiences, because readability helps everyone.
- Are you addressing your email envelope?
Recipients use four elements — the sender, subject line, preheader and preview pane — to decide whether to open or delete your email or report it as spam. So if you’re just crafting your subject line, then you’re ignoring 75% of the elements that readers use to determine whether to open.
To increase open rates, address all four elements of the envelope — not just the subject line.
Here’s wishing you a joyful and productive 2022. May you reach more readers and get the word out in the New Year!
Ann Wylie works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. To learn more about her training, consulting or writing and editing services, contact her at ann@WylieComm.com. Get FREE writing tips here. Find more than 2,000 writing tip sheets at RevUpReadership.com.
Copyright © 2022 Ann Wylie. All rights reserved.
[Photo credit: gatot]