The ever-evolving English language

We’ve all heard the great Darwinian phrase “survival of the fittest”, meaning only the strongest will survive and thrive.

But it’s not just about being strong. It’s also about being flexible and adapting to change. It’s about solving and evolving.

And that’s just what the English language does so well.

Rigid, starchy, rules around splitting infinitives and beginning sentences with ‘but’ have moved on. Not to the detriment of English however. We no longer speak in the ‘Queen’s English’ so why write that way. Particularly as the mediums through which we communicate have become so diverse and direct.

And while there is a place for Twitter’s 140 characters limit and an array of emojis in text messages, they should support and complement our beautiful language not replace it.

A business email sent to a client should not sign off with an array of smiley faces, any more than a text to a friend shouldn’t begin ‘dear sir’. It’s all about context and balance.

And new words that slip into our English language through the process of evolution should be embraced and enjoyed. After all, if you can’t beat them, join them!

Think…

• Brexit – the departure of the UK from the EU
• Binge-watch – watching multiple episodes of a favourite TV programme
• FOMO – fear of missing out if not online
• JOMO – joy of missing out by not being online
• Selfie – taking a photo of yourself via a smartphone
• Bitcoin – digital currency

The list goes on.

Which is why, the English language, we salute you – keep on evolving!

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Rewarding awards

This summer I’ve been working with a number of clients on awards. From helping them with their applications, to promoting well-deserved nominations and wins.

And that’s the thing with awards; they’re rewarding on so many levels.

Yes, knuckling down to pen a piece about how great a business is and why takes time (and patience!), but it’s worth it.

  • Focus – if you don’t have a business plan before writing, you will afterwards, as award applications are great for focusing the mind on past achievements and future aspirations.
  • Objectives – trying to determine these why running a thriving business can be tough and lost in an already overloaded to-do list. But if you have to commit them to paper for an award application, you’re then committed to them for the long-term.
  • Morale – just being named a finalist can boost team morale 100%, and then if you go on to win it’s stratospheric!
  • Recognition – fundamentally, this is what it’s all about, as third party endorsement what you’re doing is brilliant is all the recognition you need. And this in turn will bring fabulous public relations, media, marketing and business development opportunities to help further grow your business.

So, next time a batch of ‘last chance to enter’ award emails come your way, don’t reach for the delete button as the rewards could make it well worth your while.

Captivating copy – top tips

Writing well is an art not a science; and for those of us who do it for a living, it tends to come naturally and with ease.

Here’s a few of my top tips for captivating copy, which I regularly share with delegates on my training workshops.

Plan: Before you even begin, stop to think why you are writing and who you are writing for.  The objective will channel what you should include and what you shouldn’t.  You should then be in a position to draw up an outline plan of the structure of your content.

Focus: Now you have a plan and are clear on the why and who, stay focused.  Stick to your planned structure and make every word earn its place: if it’s off-message, it’s out.

Content: Keep it simple, avoid jargon, be clear on what you say and what you mean and state your main points upfront – don’t bury them!  In terms of the overall length, keep it tight and don’t overwrite as less is definitely more: quantity does not denote quality, very often the reverse.

Edit: Fresh eyes also bring fresh ideas.  Reread your document, and ask a colleague to also read through as very often how you read what you wrote may not be how they read it.  And finally, proofread for typos and spelling and grammatical errors.

In summary, whatever you write make sure you do it well and get it right.

Too busy to blog?

If I wasn’t a professional writer with my own communications consultancy, my answer to that question would be yes!

Most business people are far too busy running their company to think about blogging, but they shouldn’t underestimate the power and reach of the blogger’s voice.

Blogging provides an opportunity and platform on which to share news and promote events and also raises the profile of the author and their business.  Which – in turn – enhances their ranking on powerful search engines like Google.

So if you are too busy to blog, why not let someone else do it for you.  As a professional copywriter, journalist and columnist, I ghostwrite regular blog postings for clients.  I do the writing and they receive the recognition: simple.

To find out more please call or email, I’d be happy to talk it through.

Words

Love them or hate them, words are a big part of our everyday life and even more so since the advent of online written communications.

As a professional wordsmith, I adore words and have had the pleasure of working closely with them throughout my career.  Which is why I am distraught when I see them misused and abused.

Pacific is an ocean not a means of specifying.

Best practice – with a ‘c’ – is the recognised way of doing something properly.

Those present are here not hear; that’s for the ears.

Effective writing can significantly affect the reader, not the other way around.

The team has won (singular) not have won (plural).

And as for hyphens, please don’t use them unless they are absolutely essential for example to clarify meaning.  Yes for re-sign (sign again) otherwise it means resign (leave a job) but not for email/e-mail which can be either however, put simply, since the hyphen adds no value and looks downright ugly why bother.

Rant over!