Distinguish your communications by writing well

Do a thousand of your words add up to the value of a clear picture?How well do you communicate in writing? Do you follow the fundamental rules of English or reason that if people can figure out what you’re saying, that should be good enough? Have you succumbed to texting-style business writing? The general quality of journalism and business writing has significantly declined over the last two decades.This is partially due to the speed of messages that were delivered prior to e-mail, and especially in the pre-texting and pre-Twitter eras.Less acceptable is that literacy standards in the culture have dropped to accommodate what’s popular in the entertainment world versus the halls of higher learning, executive board rooms and continuing education.The common practices of using colloquialisms, typing in all lowercase, abbreviating and using numbers or single letters to represent whole words are lately spilling over into business correspondence.Common errorsOne of the problems with this trend is that such new shortcuts and cheapened prose are not universally understood, nor respected in all business environments. Those who notice these things can be turned off by the over-casual use of the language.I’ve noticed recently that glaring errors are showing up more in marketing communications. These include the home pages of Web sites, direct mail pieces and e-blasts.Errors are even more copious in cover letters and business correspondence showing up on my desk as well as in e-mails. Here’s one such example: “…addressing many point of views.”I’ve become the go-to proofreader for a few friends. This has made me more aware of our society’s lowered writing standards.Have you read through materials from the mid-20th century and earlier? Letters, articles, books? They are a pleasure to read because people took time to write well. In them, sentences draw clear pictures and the writer’s voice becomes alive.They cared about the reader’s perception of their intelligence as demonstrated through their literary skill.Relaxed standardsIt seems as though people don’t care much about that anymore.This relaxing of standards may be misguided. The smart readers of today do care about quality. Well-written English carries more meaning than its cheap counterpart, lingo.Headlines, by necessity, have abbreviated grammar. By the same token, good copywriting is targeted at its intended audience, so not in every case do I recommend using the Queen’s English. But if you’re speaking to professionals and business executives, it’s better that your words are chosen for exact meaning and distinction.Compliment the intelligence of your audience and respect the value of their time with great writing in all of your materials. In turn, you will also be more respected and better understood.Chuck Sink is business development director at wedü Inc., an integrated advertising and marketing firm based in Manchester. He may be contacted at chuck@wedu.com.