The How & Why of Words

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Reports, presentations, blogs, tweets and endless emails; we all have to use words at work and we (mostly) know what we want to say. But how often do we consider how we’re going to say it? Or even why we’re writing in the first place?

To ask for things in business communication we need to combine three elements: what, how and why. In linguistic terms these are locution, illocution and perlocution.

  • Locution – the utterance and its ostensible meaning
  • Illocution – the intended meaning
  • Perlocution – the effect on the reader/hearer, intended or not.

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How to Nail your Executive Summary for a Decision? Think about your Reader.

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You need a decision from the senior management team, probably to spend money, time or both on a new project. You’ve done your homework and know what you are going to ask for. How can you make it easy for the team, your readers, to take the decision? Be kind to them. This means not taxing their working memory by making them hunt around for information. Read More

Why One Press Release Is Not Enough. And What You Can Do Instead

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PR is often a nice-to-have rather than a must-have. For small businesses it can seem time-consuming, expensive, and you’re not even sure if it works. Usually, there are more pressing things to do.

Then there’s a big win for the company. You land a prestigious client, have a brand new product or are shortlisted for an industry award. Suddenly you have something you want to tell the world about. So you ask around for a freelancer or small agency and tell them you need a press release.

The PR, however, is less than enthusiastic. Why? Because it’s probably not news. Apple Buys Microsoft is news. Consultancy Launches AI+ Portfolio of Solutions is often not. As one former Editor used to say to me; “That’s not news, it’s a company announcement”. To be fair, he did then create a section called ‘Company Announcements’ just for non-news.

The PR also knows the effort for one release could sustain an entire campaign. Even if the release IS news, for it to be successful you still have to do all the prelim work of a longer programme. It’s better bang for your buck to create a campaign, which may include a release, but achieves momentum with regular content like case studies, opinion pieces, blogs, and news.

So what could you do instead of a press release?

If you just want to announce your news, try your owned outlets like Linked In and the website. Write up your announcement in 300 words and post it on the CEOs LinkedIn profile, or on the company blog. Then share the link. This gets it to people who are interested. It could even remind them to drop you a line about a new project (isn’t that how LinkedIn’s supposed to work?).

You can also take a step back from the immediate news and think about how it could fit in to a wider PR campaign. You could start by thinking about these four questions:

  • What do you want to achieve?  Attract investment, drive sales, appeal to talent, promote a new product or service, raise the profile of the CEO, something else?
  • What have you got to say?  What’s topical in the industry and what could you say about it? What would interest the industry about your AI+ Portfolio?
  • Who wants to hear it?  We think about your audience and what they want to know. What can companies learn from your experience?
  • How shall we say it?  Where is the best place to tell your story to reach your audience?  This is often a combination of mainstream or social media, speaking at events, sales collateral, case studies, blogs, postcards…

Answering these questions will help to produce a campaign that fits with your budget and available time too.

A good PR agency will help you through this process before deciding on the right elements for the campaign. So you can tell the world about your successes in a way that has an effect.

That said, if you still just want a press release, drop me a line and I’ll send you our template.


Pre-Meeting Deck for New Business? Think New York Times

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How can you excite your reader with your pre-meeting deck? Try this: think of your presentation as the New York Times. (I know!)

One difference between US and UK newspapers is the structure. The first time I read the NYT for real I was surprised to find the front page stories were often continued on later pages, where there would also be more articles on the same subject. This wasn’t so common in British papers. Read More