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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Top tips on writing for the web

Everyone writes but not necessarily well.

And these days, many of us write for online audiences. But this is a tough readership to reach out to and most importantly engage with.

Put simply, there’s so much content available on the ether that is the world wide web that competition is fierce.

This means in just a few simple steps you have to be found (via search engines like Google), your summary has to be succinct and informative so people click through, and then your online content has to be clear and concise so people actually stay and read on.

So, how do you write well for the web and make sure you’re actually read?

Here are five top tips.

  1. Engaging headline – make sure your headline is clear and not overly clever; it really should do what it says on the tin (see mine for this blog!).
  2. Uncluttered opening – make your initial few paragraphs short and ensure they clearly outline what is to come. Create ‘white space’ so the reader doesn’t land on your webpage and see a mass of dense overwhelming text. They will only leave…
  3. Informative content – if the reader does choose to stay (for which well done!), make sure you go on to inform and educate them in an easily digestible writing style. It’s about adding value while remaining readable.
  4. Edit and proof – do make sure all your online writing has been edited and proofread. Typos and errors look unprofessional and can be so easily avoided.
  5. Call to action – end with a call to action style comment (e.g. drop us a line to learn more) to encourage reader engagement and contact. Interaction is the name of the game after all.

Hopefully, you found this blog easy to find and read, and as a result you’re still here now. And that’s the main aim of any good piece of writing for the web!

Too busy to blog? We can write them for you!

Blogging is a fantastic marketing and business development tool.

But blogs take time to write; time you probably don’t have.

Why not let us write your blogs for you?

The process is quick and easy:

  • A brief chat to share your ideas and expertise.
  • We research and write your draft blog.
  • You feedback your comments.
  • We finalise your blog and it’s ready to go live.

Surrey-based Claire Dee Communications is run by Claire Dee, a trained journalist and communications professional. Claire ghostwrites blogs for businesses large and small on everything from accountancy and engineering to learning and development and the law.

Please contact us to learn more – we’re happy to help!

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.

Selfie – it’s official!

Oxford Dictionaries has announced ‘selfie’ as its word of 2013 on the basis its usage has increased by 17,000% over the past year – staggering!

For those not in the know, a selfie is a self-portrait photo usually taken with a phone for uploading onto social media sites.  Famous selfie advocates include pop stars, politicians, and even the Pope.

Personally, I think this news is great and further evidence of the flexibility of the English language.  I may be a stickler for good grammar and the correct use of our beautiful prose, but I also recognise (and regularly preach!) that it must evolve to survive.

Twenty years ago, it was a cardinal sin to begin a sentence with ‘but’ or ‘and’, and you would never dream of splitting an infinitive.  Now, all three (and so much more) are perfectly acceptable in the right context.

In the early 2000s, I remember first hearing the words ‘carbon footprint’ while working for PricewaterhouseCoopers in London.  Corporate social responsibility and being a good green employer was coming to the fore in a big way, and measuring your carbon footprint (impact on the environment) was the buzz phrase of the time.  Now, carbon footprint is well known and understood with its own place on the pages of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary; just as selfie will be very soon.

Other words on the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 shortlist include: binge-watch, bitcoin, showrooming, and twerk.  Visit www.oxforddictionaries.com for the full list.

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.