Solving Your Biggest Business Writing Problems

Here’s how to approach some of the challenges in business writing:

  • Do you have something that will work already done in some form? (That can be altered, edited? – don’t reinvent the wheel every time). Many pieces can have new life in slightly different forms, such as the case study that becomes a shorter blog post, or the corporate speech that becomes multiple blog posts.
  • Identifying the best person to author your specific prose. Save time and money by ensuring you have the best author on board, someone who knows your company and the subject well enough so you don’t end up doing all the rewrites yourself.
  • Deciding on what form the message/communication should take. Here again, strategy is a key issue. What is the desired outcome or call to action the piece of writing is meant for? What forms of communication are most appropriate to your particular audience?
  • Distributing the message/communication to the correct audience. The best piece of writing in the world does little good if it doesn’t reach the appropriate target(s). That needs to be defined before the piece gets written.
  • Distributing your message using the correct tool/tools. How does your target audience prefer to receive a message or a piece of writing? There’s so much variety here—video, print, online, mobile apps? Where are they most likely to find what they need from you?
  • Ridding your piece of jargon and slang. At the end of the day, nobody wants to have to circle back and re-edit a piece to ensure top-of mind strategic synergy, now do they?
  • Finding your consistent business voice. All companies should have a tone that’s consistent and appropriate for their business “personality.” A disrupter in the used automobile space will have a very different voice than, say, Bloomingdales.
  • Overcoming the scheduling demon – by this I mean—why is it always late? Maybe it’s because it’s the workload of an afterthought. How about contracting it out to someone who only does that one thing, which is to create B2B writing products?

A Quick History of Silicon Beach

Actually, this is Laguna Beach, but it’s close.

What is Silicon Beach, anyway? Basically it’s a moniker that refers to tech companies, or those entertainment companies that overlap with tech (and I guess they all do, or will), that are located in part of Los Angeles near the Pacific Ocean: Santa Monica to the north, Playa del Rey to the south, and east a couple of miles or so to Culver City.

The role of available real estate and appropriate infrastructure looms large—it certainly helps that Culver City, eastern Santa Monica and the Venice area all had areas ripe for development or repurpose. Add to that the major new areas of Playa del Rey (where it’s as if a brand new city emerged from the wetlands and the sand) and the Metro’s Expo Line light rail from DTLA to Santa Monica and poof!

The Water Garden Complex was built in the 1990s, and Universal Music Group moved in. Of course, MGM studio (later Sony) was historically in Culver City. Early companies that embraced the area included Hulu, TrueCar, BeachMint, YouTube (Google) and SnapChat.

The attraction for millennial workers and others: Not only is it just real estate, it’s very attractive for prospective employees—who wouldn’t want to go skating or play volleyball or go for a dip at lunch or after work? Certainly, amenities are an added bonus.

The unique thing that separates Silicon Beach from other high tech corridors is the presence of the entertainment business and the omnipresent Hollywood legacy. At its most basic, Silicon Beach is the latest iteration for the area which has seen numerous boom cycles from the early 20th century, when beachgoers shared the area with oil derricks. I would say it’s a huge improvement!

 

Why We Love: Trade Shows and Conventions

Get Me Out of the Office! Most of the year it’s the same old same old, right? Whether it’s the corner office or a gray cubicle in the middle of everything, our routine settings get tiresome, and it’s only a matter of degree. Everything looks fresh in a new environment, even a temporary one.

Learning new things: Let’s face it, even the most jaded among us will find a new take on something at an annual trade show, if not some truly revolutionary product or idea. Prepare to become surprised and delighted.

Meeting new people: It’s such a relief being away from the usual crowd, amiright? Sure, it’s business contacts who help us grow, but also old friends and colleagues who’ve moved on and this might be that great chance to catch up. Of course, there are the post-show intrigues as well—“what happens at the trade show stays at the trade show.” Sometimes that’s a good thing!

Restaurants/bars/other sights: If it’s the annual trip to a certain location, one you’ve visited before, you get to see what’s new. Great for foodies and those who like clubs, but even the more sedate in our midst may find a new attraction worth visiting.

It’s a Gym Alternative: You know you wanted this, you were likely getting sick of the same four walls and a convention center walking workout was what your body craved—especially post-holiday season where, if you’re like me, you fell off the healthy diet wagon. Those sore feet and legs? Warrior points, baby, just remember that.

So you’ve got a few shows lined up for the new year and the materials are already written, edited and approved, right? 

Business Communications: Misconceptions?

 

 

 

 

Do you ever have the experience of reading a company’s boilerplate description—that all-important paragraph or two that explains who they are and what they do—and coming away from it like you’ve just been shackled to a day-old word salad bar?

It seems like startups must think that the longer and more undecipherable a description is, the higher its value. As if by making the reader go over it twice or more times to figure out what they really mean by those words inflates the company’s importance.

I would argue no. It doesn’t. All it does is annoy the reader. Here’s a few other misconceptions about business communication:

  • It has to use language only insiders understand. Closely related to the point above, I suspect, to give the piece “authority.” Business communications are not always directed at peers, however, and if you’re going to use terms not widely understood, define them clearly the first time they appear. Throw that lifeline!
  • It has to be lengthy to be worthwhile. If it’s long it must have gravitas. Here business communication can take a cue from its distant cousin journalism: explain what the reader needs to know clearly and briefly. She’s likely busy. As in so many areas of our lives, less is more.
  • It has to be rare, as in acceptable norms and intervals. Why? Somebody somewhere invented what we now see as normal when it filled a need. Innovation has the added bonus of excitement, thus, a multiplier effect.
  • Related to rare, it has to limit itself to accepted forms (i.e., yawner powerpoints). The world increasingly wants visuals, video and photos. Social media use tells us that the younger generations of users prefer visual-based platforms (such as Instagram and Snapchat) over text-based ones (Facebook, Twitter). At the very least, include it more. (By the way, I write scripts.)