Focus on advocacy and branding: how do I write like an expert?

Antique TypewriterWe all do it, we are expected to do it: that little article in the school newsletter, that blog post in the library website, that short report for our headteacher, that training feedback form for our line manager, etc. etc. etc.

We all need to write for our job but are we doing it the right way?

Starting to post for this blog was really daunting at the beginning so I decided to ask a friend of mine for her top tips on how to make my posts interesting, useful and worth-reading.

These are the invaluable tips from Anne Wollenberg, award-winning freelance journalist and friend extraordinaire!

The audience comes first: I suggest having some questions you want each article to answer – whichever of these are appropriate to the situation… How did your event/initiative/course benefit the school? Why was it worth spending the money? What did you gain or learn from the activity? Why are you telling the reader about it? Who is your reader and what do they want to know? What matters to them? For example… do they want to know that you had a nice day out – or do they want to know why you spent their money, how they will benefit and how they will be affected? Don’t think about what you want to write but about what matters to the reader.

Always cover the basics: Make sure you cover who, what, where, when, why – and so what?

Keep your message consistent and clear: People should remember any one piece – whatever they are writing – may be the first or only article any individual reads about the organisation/library. What do you need to convey about how you operate, your priorities, your ethos, etc? Always bear in mind it may be someone’s first impression of you. Remind them of your brand messages. What are the aims of your library/service? How do you want to be perceived? What are you saying about yourselves? These are things to keep in mind when writing.

Keep your readership interested: Remember that your reader doesn’t really care about whether you had a nice day. They want to know why they should be interested in the day/event you had. It’s fine to say the day was fun or enjoyable (as it might encourage others to attend the next event) but say WHY. What did you do or learn that was enjoyable AND worthwhile?

Split it up a bit: 500-700 words is quite long and a daunting amount to write. And whatever the word length, always split your article up in different sections. It can include a certain number of words of body text (main article text) and then pick one or two or three of the following:

– Top three things you learned during the event/training course/initiative

– Action points: explain some of the ways in which you will implement what you learned, changes you will make, etc

– About the trainer/guest speaker. Who are they? What’s their job? What was it like to meet them?

– An interesting fact or point of discussion that was covered on the day

What NOT to include: what you had for lunch. Just, no!

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