Posted by Tom Gable
Gable PR has been working with a rapidly growing mortgage broker company on building its national image and reputation. The program components include media relations, community relations, awards programs, social media, video and other tools, tactics and channels to reach their different audiences with good news about the company, its people and quality, which is in abundance.
The company differentiates itself based on its entrepreneurial culture, quality people and commitment to unparalleled customer service. Its leaders urge everyone in the organization to communicate its values well and deliver on all promises, to build credibility and trust – and loyal customers that keep coming back.
The leadership team has taken the quality communications theme even deeper by creating a continuous internal education program to improve writing at all levels. They started by giving several hundred team members copies of The Associated Press Stylebook and Stephen King on Writing. They provided classes and guidelines on blogging and social media. The next stage: establishing an ongoing series of tips on how to improve writing skills at every level.
Gable PR, with former journalists aboard and team members who teach at the university level and write and lecture for national audiences, was asked to create the series. As with any program, we started with research to find compelling ideas from outside experts to share with the company’s internal audiences.
We started with some old friends, such as Strunk and White (Elements of Style), then searched more broadly. We are still reading and looking to quote more sources, which is great fun. We also get smacked in the frontal lobe on occasion when we find an obvious shortcoming in our own work. The quest goes on and we have a growing bibliography shown below. Out of all this, we did find four seemingly universal truths to good writing:
1. Use short sentences and one idea per sentence.
2. Avoid jargon, acronyms, and clichés.
3. Use active verbs and the active voice; not the passive voice. Choose positive language versus negative.
4. Use definite, specific, concrete language.
That’s a start. Now, for your ongoing reading pleasures, some of our favorite resources:
- “25 editing tips for your writer’s toolbox,” Leah McClellan. Ragan.com, July 5, 2013.
- Business Communication: Building Critical Skills, Kitty Locker. McGraw-Hill, 2010.
- Eats, Shoots and Leaves – The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, Lynne Truss. Gotham Books, 2003.
- Fresh Passion: Get A Brand Or Die A Generic, Michael D. Brown. Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2013.
- How to Write Short, Word Craft for Fast Times, Roy Peter Clark. Little Brown and Co., 2013.
- It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences, June Casagrande. Ten Speed Press (Crown Publishing), New York, 2003.
- On Writing Well, William Zinsser. HarperCollins Publishers, 1990.
- Stein on Writing, Sol Stein. St. Martin’s Griffin, 1995.
- The Associated Press Stylebook, Perseus Publishing, 2013.
- The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well, Paula LaRocque. Grey and Guvner Press, 2003.
- The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein. Free Press, 2005
- The Classic Guide to Better Writing, Rudolf Flesch and A.H. Lass. HarperCollins Publishers, 1996.
- The Elements of Business Writing, Gary Blake and Robert W. Bly. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1991.
- The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. Allyn and Bacon, 2000 (earlier editions, 1959 and 1972 by McMillan Publishing Co.).
- Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, Gerald M. Weinberg. Dorset House, 2005.
- Writing Tools, Roy Peter Clark. Little, Brown and Company, 2006.