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Please learn how to write – it does matter!

I wish more people would focus their time, attention and energy on writing well.

I read a lot.  It is part of my job.

I have 20+ daily Google Alerts set up to help me sort through and prioritize articles, data and information online.   I usually have three books “in-progress” at any given time on my Kindle.  I review emails, news releases, web content, sales collateral materials, reports, resumes and other documents every day.   I also read articles from print and online newspapers, blogs, magazines and other media.

Like I said, I read a lot, and there is a lot of poor quality writing out there!

The way you write says a lot about your professionalism, attention to detail, educational preparation and, ultimately, your ability to represent an organization as an employee. 

Your communication defines you. People, particularly employers, judge you on your ability to communicate orally and in writing.

And, guess what?  Different rules apply in different situations.

The language, tone and sentence structure appropriate for business is different from the language tone and sentence structure acceptable when texting friends and family or writing a personal blog. For example, you shouldn’t LOL in a cover letter or business email, nor should you accent your resume with emoticons.

Grammar matters.  Sentence structure matters. Your ability to correctly develop and articulate complete thoughts, statements, stories and other messages matters immensely.  Your ability to logically communicate an argument or defend a position is critical. Write poorly and no one will care what you meant to say.  Great ideas can be killed by bad writing.

Journalists must write and edit well (and in AP Style).  They must also know that writing for print is different from writing for broadcast and different from writing for the web.

Screenwriters must write well and follow the structure, form and styles of screenwriting.  In addition, they must be good storytellers.

Professors must write well, follow the rules of academic writing and scholarly research and be ready to write a lot. “Publish or perish” is still the battle cry of assistant professors seeking tenure.

Successful business professionals know that writing business plans, sales proposals and client correspondence is different from writing personal letters, research papers or essays.

A well-written business plan or proposal can help you get a business loan or win a new account.  Poorly written ones can put you out of business.

To excel in public relations, you must know how to write news releases, backgrounders, media alerts, executive summaries and client profiles.  You can’t afford typos or grammatical errors in a one-page news release!

Every profession requires unique and specific writing skills, but all professions require that you be able to construct grammatically sound, coherent and professional documents.

Unfortunately, I have read a lot of really poor writing from people who genuinely believe they are very good writers. Do I have you questioning your writing skills?  If so, get some assistance.

Contact your University’s writing center (most universities have them, you know!).  You might also consider reading William Zinsser’s book On Writing Well or Stephen King’s book On Writing.

Whatever you do, please learn how to write.  It really does matter.

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