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How to Write Objectively on a Personal Topic

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


How to Write Objectively on a Personal TopicWe all have at least one area of expertise in our life. When it comes to sharing this knowledge with other people, whether it be on our website, blog, social media or newsletter, it can be challenging to stay objective and make it relatable to an audience who doesn’t share this same expertise. A similar challenge is writing about ourselves. Of course we know everything on this topic, so how do we concisely convey this information to everyone else?

My clients have various areas of expertise and often challenge me with the task of transforming their knowledge into captivating content. While there is no magic formula per se, I have found several strategies for writing objectively on a personal topic. Let’s take a look…

Do your research.

Doing research on a topic you already know intimately well may seem a bit odd. .What more could you stand to learn? A lot, actually. A simple Google search or browsing the Wikipedia page on the topic will highlight what the rest of the world deems as the most important and essential information.

Additionally, your research may uncover recent news coverage or articles that could impact how others feel about your topic. Preparing yourself with knowledge and being aware of public sentiment is an important first step to objectively writing about a personal topic.

Begin with an outline.

Now that your research has provided you with even more information on your topic of choice, create an outline to help organize your thoughts and highlight the most important points you wish to cover. One of the biggest challenges of writing objectively on a personal topic is boiling the information down to a clear and concise message. Your outline will let you see how your points flow together and if there are any gaps or holes you need to fill.

Hone in on your purpose.

When writing on a familiar and passionate topic, it’s easy to lose touch with the purpose of the content. All of a sudden you have pages upon pages written with no clear “take away” for your readers. When looking at your outline, are you able to quickly identify the main purpose of your writing?

For example, your personal topic might be creating your own bio. Of course you know yourself better than anyone else, but rather than spilling your whole life story in no particular order, you want to strategically pick what it is you want your readers to gain from reading your bio. Do you want to highlight your entrepreneurial spirit, leadership skills or love of education? Hone in on the purpose of your content and carry it throughout your writing – beginning to end.

Edit and simplify.

By this point you likely have way more content than you need. A 5-page bio is a bit excessive even for the President of the United States. Uncap your red pen or turn on the “review” feature on your Word doc and get to chopping. Read your writing out loud and look for redundancies, insignificant details and long winded descriptions that can be eliminated. This will be one of the hardest, but most important steps for creating content that will captivate your readers.

Ask for outside input.

Finally, ask a friend or family member who doesn’t have near the amount of expertise on your particular topic to read over your writing. Their outside perspective is valuable for identifying areas that need more explanation or industry-specific words that need to be defined or replaced with something more common. This input is a great litmus test for how your target audience will also respond to your writing.

What personal topics have challenged you when it comes to objective writing? Share how you overcame this struggle – or ask your questions on how to do so, by commenting below!

 

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2017 in Business & Success

 

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How to Write Objectively on a Personal Topic

How to Write Objectively on a Personal TopicWe all have at least one area of expertise in our life. When it comes to sharing this knowledge with other people, whether it be on our website, blog, social media or newsletter, it can be challenging to stay objective and make it relatable to an audience who doesn’t share this same expertise. A similar challenge is writing about ourselves. Of course we know everything on this topic, so how do we concisely convey this information to everyone else?

My clients have various areas of expertise and often challenge me with the task of transforming their knowledge into captivating content. While there is no magic formula per se, I have found several strategies for writing objectively on a personal topic. Let’s take a look…

Do your research.

Doing research on a topic you already know intimately well may seem a bit odd. .What more could you stand to learn? A lot, actually. A simple Google search or browsing the Wikipedia page on the topic will highlight what the rest of the world deems as the most important and essential information.

Additionally, your research may uncover recent news coverage or articles that could impact how others feel about your topic. Preparing yourself with knowledge and being aware of public sentiment is an important first step to objectively writing about a personal topic.

Begin with an outline.

Now that your research has provided you with even more information on your topic of choice, create an outline to help organize your thoughts and highlight the most important points you wish to cover. One of the biggest challenges of writing objectively on a personal topic is boiling the information down to a clear and concise message. Your outline will let you see how your points flow together and if there are any gaps or holes you need to fill.

Hone in on your purpose.

When writing on a familiar and passionate topic, it’s easy to lose touch with the purpose of the content. All of a sudden you have pages upon pages written with no clear “take away” for your readers. When looking at your outline, are you able to quickly identify the main purpose of your writing?

For example, your personal topic might be creating your own bio. Of course you know yourself better than anyone else, but rather than spilling your whole life story in no particular order, you want to strategically pick what it is you want your readers to gain from reading your bio. Do you want to highlight your entrepreneurial spirit, leadership skills or love of education? Hone in on the purpose of your content and carry it throughout your writing – beginning to end.

Edit and simplify.

By this point you likely have way more content than you need. A 5-page bio is a bit excessive even for the President of the United States. Uncap your red pen or turn on the “review” feature on your Word doc and get to chopping. Read your writing out loud and look for redundancies, insignificant details and long winded descriptions that can be eliminated. This will be one of the hardest, but most important steps for creating content that will captivate your readers.

Ask for outside input.

Finally, ask a friend or family member who doesn’t have near the amount of expertise on your particular topic to read over your writing. Their outside perspective is valuable for identifying areas that need more explanation or industry-specific words that need to be defined or replaced with something more common. This input is a great litmus test for how your target audience will also respond to your writing.

What personal topics have challenged you when it comes to objective writing? Share how you overcame this struggle – or ask your questions on how to do so, by commenting below!

 

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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How to Craft a Killer Mission Statement

on mission

As a business owner, you’ve likely been told at least once (or countless times) that you need a solid mission statement to communicate what it is you do. I agree that this is good advice, but so often the person giving it doesn’t have the slightest clue as to what makes a mission statement good or why you really need one to begin with.

I’ll admit that I didn’t know either until I re-educated myself on the topic. What I found was a lot different than what I remember being taught in my Public Relations classes in college. Here’s a look at the modern makings of a solid mission statement, starting with basics.

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement serves both an internal and external purpose for your business. It shares a message with your employees as much as it shares a message with your customers. Internally, your mission statement creates focus, provides purpose and builds a solid foundation for making important business decisions. Externally, your mission statement defines who you are (especially points of differentiation) and it communicates how your work is making a difference in the world.

A good mission statement does 2 things:

  1. It tells the world why what you are doing matters. No matter your business or industry, the services you provide help people in some way (why else would they pay you for them?). Express this in your mission statement to demonstrate why the talents you bring to your customers matter – they help make their life easier, more enjoyable or fun.
  2. It leads your organization to do what matters. As I mentioned about the internal influence of your mission statement, a well-crafted one will inspire your employees to exemplify these core values every day. How they choose to interact with customers, their decision to go the extra mile and their commitment to you can all be influenced by your mission statement.

Now let’s get into the meat of things. Hopefully you are inspired to revamp your own mission statement and here’s the best way to get started. Ask yourself these two questions and immediately write down the various answers that come to mind. How you respond will help shine a spotlight on what you should include in your mission statement.

How are you different from competitors or industry stereotypes?

This question is critical for not only informing your customers, but reminding your employees of the qualities that make your business stand out. These are qualities that you should hold near and dear and promote as often as possible. Your mission statement is one big megaphone that will do just that.

What factors affect your pricing and quality of service?

This question may seem a bit more abstract, but believe me, it’s relevant. As a business owner, you need to have an intimate understanding of the factors that affect your pricing and quality of service – and select these strategically. Factors like the education or experience of your employees, commitment to innovation or attention to detail and customer service may mean you aren’t the cheapest business out there. And that’s okay! Be sure to call out these factors – that are really benefits – to your customers to ensure they understand that your mission is to compete on quality, not price.

If you get writer’s block, remember these 5 things:

  1. Don’t stress over word choice. This is the easiest part to nit-pick later on and the least important for initially developing your statement. Focus on the overall direction/meaning.
  2. Keep it short! The best mission statements are two sentences or less.
  3. Keep it simple! Too many organizations have long, flowery mission statements that make it difficult for the reader to comprehend what you’re really trying to say.
  4. Say it out loud. Does it sound awkward? Memorable? Catchy? Human? It should reflect you and your brand. Make sure that it sounds like something you would say.
  5. The “Disagreement Test.” Essentially this is if no one would disagree with your statement (because you say things like “make the world better” or “act with integrity”) then your statement is too generic. Don’t hide behind clichés! …Or at least save those for your vision statement.

How to Use Your Mission Statement:

Once you’ve put the time and effort into crafting a new mission statement, get the most use out of it that you can! Place it on your website (the Homepage and About page are two logical choices). Incorporate it into your social media profiles (Facebook has its own category for mission statements on its business pages). Carry it across all of your promotional materials and press releases. And finally, incorporate elements of your mission statement into the personal introduction you use at networking events and other business functions.

And because we’re on the topic of mission statements, I would be remiss to not share my own as an example:

At Bennis Public Relations, it is our mission to be your strategic partner that creates innovative and effective communication solutions that help your business grow a powerful and consistent brand.

What do you think? Share your own questions and insights about crafting a killer mission statement by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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Want to Start a Blog in 2015? Read This First!

starting a new blog

The start of the New Year is the perfect time to dive into that bucket list and try new things. Among them might be starting your own blog. Whether this has been a postponed goal or something you just thought of this year, I encourage you to give it a shot! For me personally, it has had some incredible benefits and I’m proud of my commitment to keeping up with it every Monday.

Is it scary putting your personal thoughts out there? Absolutely. Is there the fear of criticism or apathy? Of course. But these hang-ups pale in comparison to the satisfaction and pride I get from publishing something that’s been seen by nearly 70,000 people to date. And you can too! Here are 6 expert tips for creating a successful blog in 2015…and beyond!

  1. Allow time to define the direction of your blog. When I first started my blog, I remember feeling the need to immediately define the topics/theme/niche it would center on. Ultimately, I realized I couldn’t make this decision just yet. Instead of letting it be an excuse to not move forward, I simply started writing about what was relevant and on my mind. It didn’t take long before I found a natural rhythm with the different topics I enjoyed writing about most often. Had I forced myself into a pigeon hole on day 1, I would have denied myself the freedom to write about topics beyond simply business and public relations.
  1. Do it well or don’t do it at all.

Yes, getting started is one major obstacle to overcome, but keeping your blog consistently fueled with quality content is arguably even more important. Before you start your blog, think about whether you can reasonably commit to it and at what frequency. You certainly don’t need to blog daily or even weekly, but I would suggest supplying fresh content at least on a monthly basis. Why? Because there are far too many abandoned blogs out there and we don’t need any more. What we do need is committed bloggers to join us with making the blogosphere a better (and more interesting place).  One of my favorite sayings is “Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing well.” Don’t bother investing any amount of time into something you can’t stick with.

  1. Don’t stop at hitting “publish.”

Okay, so you’ve vowed to publish a new post to your blog at least monthly. This takes time, energy and creativity – valuable resources that could certainly be applied elsewhere. Don’t sell yourself short by merely hitting the “publish” button and hoping that someone stumbles upon your content. Share your blog on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin (here’s a great guide). Reference it in relevant discussions and link back to past blogs in new posts. If you want to grow your readership, you have to actively pursue them and make your content easily accessible on a multitude of different platforms. If you don’t take advantage of these opportunities you will likely be frustrated with how long it takes to gain momentum which could discourage you from keeping up with your blog.

  1. Be an active member of the community.

Starting a blog comes with the responsibility of being an active member of the blogging community. No matter the blogging platform you use, it’s important to visit other users’ blogs, leave meaningful comments and respond to comments that people make on your posts. It’s what makes the blogosphere go ‘round! From the beginning of my own blog, I made the commitment to comment on 5 other blogs every weekday morning. It quickly became a part of my morning routine that continues to drive a good amount of traffic back to my blog, not to mention the friends and followers I have made as a result of this simple gesture.

  1. Regularly evaluate your blog’s mission.

Just as over time you may decide that your blog’s theme or niche has taken a different path than what you originally thought, you must also anticipate your blog’s mission changing with time. This is why it’s critical to regularly evaluate your blog’s mission and how it aligns with its topics, readership and your business or personal mission. Be flexible and willing to change should it make sense to alter your mission to make it more relevant to your audience and goals.

  1. Be genuine.

Finally and most importantly, make sure your blog remains true to who you are and what you’re passionate writing about. One sure way to make your blog feel like work is to stray from what represents you. Yes, you want to write to capture an audience, but your ideal audience will appreciate posts that are genuine and personal. Make sure your blog pleases you first…and everyone else second.

Do you have other questions about starting your blog or have your own secrets for success? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2015 in Business & Success, Life

 

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How to Become a Better Writer

To excel in any profession it takes both dedication and talent. From doctors and lawyers to singers and actors and everything in between, you must continually practice to stand out in your respective field. Writing – whether as a profession or simply as an everyday skill – is no exception.

Writing is the core of my profession, but it’s also an essential skill I use well outside of what earns me a paycheck. This is why I am always on the search for ways in which I can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of my writing.

Thanks to technology that directs us to resources and connects us with fellow writing professionals, there are more opportunities than ever to improve your written communication. So how do you narrow them down? Really, it’s trial and error to find the triggers that inspire you to become a better writer. I know I have spent years trying to find my own. While what works for one will not work for all, these are five launching points that provide a solid foundation for overall “good” writing and will help point you in the right direction.

Understand your purpose

Diving into a writing project before you fully understand exactly “why” you’re writing is like shooting an arrow before you’ve seen the target. Maybe you’ll get lucky and end up with a well-crafted piece, but the outcome that is far more common is mismatched content that reads more like a stream of conscious than strategic and intelligent thoughts.

To understand your purpose, first put it into words before you write anything else. For this very article, I organized my purpose and main points before I started writing. The title and bolded sections (the bones) were formed before I filled it in with content (the meat). If you struggle to identify a purpose, this is a big red flag that indicates a weak idea and lack of organization.

Find passion

Purpose is one very important component for quality writing, but so is passion. An article can have a clear purpose, but passion is what draws readers in and makes them want to consume the information. If you’re passionate about what you’re writing, you will be excited to sit down and put your thoughts into words. You’ll also enjoy reading and re-reading these words until they say exactly what you want them to.

But finding this passion can be a mental challenge. So often the fear of putting your thoughts into words, or a lack of confidence in your ability to do so, can overshadow your passion. Overcome these roadblocks by shifting your focus back to you – not your critics, competitors or writing idols – simply you. When you are writing for self-satisfaction, you will be open to embracing the same passion with which people dance when they think no one is watching.

Do it for yourself

For writing to become an enjoyment and not a chore, you must learn to do it for yourself. This is the point I just touched upon above, but I wanted to dive a little deeper into exactly how you learn to write for yourself.

If you have complete freedom to select your topic, first choose a topic about which you’re knowledgeable, curious or passionate. In doing so, you’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in the topic – and enjoy it! All good writers are able to gain some level of enjoyment in their writing. If your topic is strictly chosen for you, the angle with which you approach it becomes ever important. It’s possible to take the driest topic and turn it into something you enjoy (even if only slightly) and make the writing about you!

Put the effort into proofreading

One essential component of good writing that we can’t tip-toe around (oh and I’ve tried) is proofreading. Yes, it’s that element of writing that simply isn’t as fun as dreaming up big ideas and writing from the soul – but it’s absolutely necessary. Proofreading can be intimidating because it takes time and a very specific knowledge of a complicated topic, making it all the more valuable of a skill for good writers to have.

Aside from hitting the books to brush up on your grammar, you can also turn to technology to provide you with some pretty helpful tools. Google can serve as a quick spell check, but it won’t catch the more complex errors. I often use Grammarly for proofreading because let’s face it, the English language is challenging enough to speak, let alone write. What I really like about this particular tool is that it teaches you why you’re making common grammar mistakes so you develop into a better writer – not a lazy writer.

Stop overthinking it

Finally, in order to become a better writer you quite simply need to chill out – relax! When you’re stressed and hyper-focused, your writing will reflect this. It will seem rigid and anxious. Writing is an art form after all, and it requires organic creativity that is only able to freely flow when you’re relaxed.

Before writing, take a deep breath. Close your eyes and find a relaxed space in your mind. Don’t look at a clock or agonize over how long you’ve been staring at a blank page. If you’re feeling blocked, take a break and walk away. You can’t force good writing and the grade school philosophy of “sit there until you finish it” will only turn your temporary writer’s block into a lifelong fear of the written word.

What have you found to be the most helpful tips and tools for becoming a better writer? Share your advice in the comments below!

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Business & Success

 

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