Chapter 1: Cornerstones of Communication
The writing process needs to include three steps:
The amount of time you spend in each step and how you go about each can vary. Some people like to spend a lot of time planning and save themselves time in the editing process. Others like to brain dump quickly and spend more time revising and reworking. Either can work, but walking through the writing process and hitting every step makes the final writing stronger.
It can be easy to shortchange this step and jump right into writing, but time spent on strong planning and solid research saves time overall. It makes writing faster and reduces time spent revising.
During the planning process, make sure you’re clear why you’re writing and what the goal is. Know what you’re asking of your reader. Maybe it’s just for their attention or maybe it’s some type of action, but know what you want from the reader. And be clear how that aligns with larger marketing or business objectives.
This is also the time to make sure you understand your reader. It’s important to think about the reader’s relationship to your organization and their likely attitude about or potential objections to your message.
Finally, this is when to gather information for what you’re writing and get organized. Gather more information than you think you need. Think about quotes, anecdotes, statistics and images. Consider who you can or should ask for information. Check credibility of sources. Test things out and observe.
This book walks you through much of the writing you would do in a professional public relations or communication role. The style of writing varies for each, but the writing should still be sandwiched between time spent planning and then editing.
Make editing a formal step in your writing process to force yourself to analyze your own writing. Allow time for re-reading and corrections even when you’re on a tight timeline. Before you send even a brief email to a colleague, pause and read through it one final time to correct minor spelling or punctuation errors.
I’m not sure I’ll ever fully recover from the realization that I (as a writing instructor at the collegiate level) sent a flier home to the families of 600 elementary students inviting them to “Gator Name Night” instead of “Gator Game Night” because I printed before proofreading. When my kindergarten-age son pulled it out of his backpack and pointed out my error, I tried to swallow my horrified shriek to praise his excellent reading skills.
This step in the process is also your opportunity to delete extra content or identify missing content. To double check facts, grammar, Associated Press Style, word choice and tone.