Why Your Business Needs Professional Communications
A few years ago, I was a member of a professional organization for writers that was contemplating a name change. It used to be Virginia Press Women, but the group included many women who didn’t technically work for “the press” — there’s an old-fashioned word for you — and “Professional Communicators” was the winning replacement name. Not without some controversy and argument, as I recall, from members who were puzzled over combining those two words as shorthand for our profession, which basically was professional writing and editing.
Even now, when I describe myself to business owners as a professional communicator, they sometimes get a “say what?” look on their faces. You can almost hear the gears whirring in their heads: What the heck is professional communications? And why on earth would I need it?
I know what they’re thinking: I can put pen to paper. I wrote all through college. I get emails and memos from people on my staff — clearly, they can write. Why pay extra for something I can do with my existing resources?
I’ll tell you why.
Writing as part of a job is very different from writing as a job.
With that said, here are my Top 10 Reasons for Businesses to Buy Professional Communications.
1. Your business isn’t writing or content creation. You have a business. It’s real estate or home loans or running a restaurant or home improvement or insurance or law or financial consulting or whatever. It’s not writing. You need to focus on your business. Let a writer focus on writing.
2. Professional communications can help you meet your business goals. You’re probably looking to grow your business — who isn’t? Professional communications can help by developing content targeting your key market segments through a variety of means — information on your website, a newsletter, social media promotions, direct outreach, and special events, to name just a few.
3. Content can educate your customers. This is especially true if your business involves something somewhat difficult to understand, like law, finance, insurance — but this is also true for most if not all businesses. More and more these days, people are researching before they buy, and they want more than a sales pitch — they want meaningful information they can use. Teach them and they’ll be inclined to trust you, and if there’s trust, there’s a stronger basis for doing business. This teaching can take place in a blog or a newsletter, on your website or social media, or via video or podcast.
4. Professional writing is consistent and reinforces brand. A writer can write in a “voice” that suits your business and reinforces your reputation. A writer can make sure all your written materials have a unified theme throughout. Polished communications make a positive impression and reflect well on your business.
5. A professional communicator is an “ideas” person. You might not know exactly what you need to say, or exactly how you need to say it. You might have a business goal, but don’t know quite how to reach it. A professional communicator can help you figure out how to use communications to reach potential customers, gain visibility in the marketplace, and enhance your reputation and brand.
6. Good writing is clear and original. That means limited or no jargon common to your industry, and usually no clichés, either. Good writing translates business jargon into “plain English” and avoids tired, timeworn expressions — and that professional polish reflects well on you and your business.
7. Good writing is grammatical and properly spelled. These days most published writing — even in newspapers! — is littered with bad grammar, improper spelling, misused apostrophes, incorrect word choices, and poor (or no) punctuation. Marketing and advertising content is particularly error-ridden. This is due to many factors, from poor education to faulty autocorrect software. Sloppy marketing copy can leave customers with a negative impression of your business.
8. A good writer will rewrite. Great writing doesn’t go from brain to pen to paper on the first draft. Good writing is rewriting. And rewriting. And rewriting some more. You don’t have time for that; you have a business to run. Your staff people for whom writing is not their main duty will almost certainly be content with a first draft. But a professional writer will write and rewrite until your copy is the best it can be. Surely, you want the product or service you offer to be the best it can be; why settle for less from the writing that describes and promotes it?
9. A professional writer can spot mistakes, omissions, and confusion. A writer is also an editor. Editors have a knack for catching mistakes. If you describe a how-to process on your website, an editor will spot if there’s a missed step. Editors also catch and correct common writing errors. You want any writing about your business to be as close to perfect as possible. Professional writers aim for perfection.
10. A professional communicator is familiar with different forms of communication and can advise on the best forms for your business. Are you trying to reach millennials? You need video. Are you writing for your website? You need bulleted lists that are easy to scan. Do you have a blog? Those blog entries need to be short — and, this may surprise you — writing short is harder and more time-consuming than writing long. Are you launching a new product or service? You may need a news release to alert the media, and a news release is typically written in a style known as “inverted pyramid.” What’s that, you say? A professional writer knows — and can create a news release to grab the attention of an and increase the chance that your news will get broadcast via the media to the general public.
Yes, we all communicate. Yes, we all write. Most of this writing and communication is ordinary, everyday, garden-variety. You expect more than that from the product you provide or the service you offer. You expect excellence — indeed, you demand it. Expect no less from the communications that support your business. Indeed, demand it.