In my last post, I discussed how writing can make or break your bottom line. Today I want to talk about the different types of business writing and how they can affect your company. Once we’ve reviewed those, I’ll offer some tips on how to control the quality of written communication in your business.
Types of business writing can be broken down into two basic categories: internal and external. “Internal” encompasses those written documents meant to be contained within the business and not distributed to the general public. “External,” on the other hand, includes all things written with the public audience in mind. Let’s break this down further.
- Examples of internal business writing:
- Policies and procedures
- Legally-mandated postings
- Staff/Employee newsletters
- Inter-office e-mail
- Examples of external business writing:
- Blog posts
- Marketing materials
- Business proposals/RFPs
- Client e-mail
- Company newsletters
- Press releases
- Social media
From a Human Resources perspective, effective internal business writing should be a focus. Communicating clearly with staff is critical, and can even mean the difference between a happy employee and a potential lawsuit. Policies and procedures must not only be within the letter of the law, but written in a way that most people can understand them. Things like proper spelling and grammar are also important, helping to avoid confusion or a lack of confidence in the company’s management. Much of this holds true for other types of internal written communication.
As important as effective internal communication is, however, most companies focus more on their external communication. This is largely how deals are made, after all. Like most business owners, I’m highly conscious of the fact that my staff represents me when they communicate with our clients. I’ve even had to backpedal in the past when someone issued an external communication that wasn’t approved or accurate.
So how can business owners help ensure the quality of their company’s written communications? Here are a few tips I’ve picked up:
- Hire a professional staff writer/editor. Many large companies either have an internal staff writer/editor or use qualified freelancers to create and distribute all key company communications. Smaller companies should strive to have at least one person on staff qualified to review all critical written communications.
- Have all mandatory internal written communication reviewed by an attorney before it is distributed to personnel.
- Include a basic grammar/spelling screening for candidates applying for positions that entail external written communication. Require a certain percentage of correct answers to qualify for those positions.
- Create well-written templates that all employees can use for general external communications, such as reaching out to potential clients or thanking someone for their business.
- Conduct random QA screenings of external communications, including e-mails between employees and clients and social media posts.
- Provide access to training on effective communication on at least an annual basis.
These are just a few tricks of the trade I’ve learned along the way. What are some of the ways you ensure effective communication in your business? Please let us know, and join us next time for a post about the writing tools you should be using right now!