Writing an Award Submission to Boost Your Organisation’s Image

Writing an award submission might seem like a big challenge if you are not an experienced award submission writer.  If your award submission writing is successful and you win the award or are a finalist, it’s excellent way to get free publicity and boost your organisation’s image.

While writing an award submission might seem challenging, there are simple points to remember that will help you write your submission and increase your chances of success.

Here are a few tips to consider when writing an award submission:

Answer the questions when writing an award submission.

This might seem like a simple point but is often overlooked. Go over all the questions before writing your submission and consider what is being asked. For example, if the award submission asks about volunteering and community involvement, don’t get into your customer service practices that aren’t connected with the question.

Also, stay within the word count for each question. If not, your award submission might be rejected for not meeting the guidelines.

Use specific examples to answer the questions in your award submission.

For example, in an award submission for a vocational education provider, we wrote the following when answering the question ‘Over and above your core business responsibilities, what sets you apart in the delivery of the services from other providers?’

Our main point of difference is our work experience program which enables our students to gain first-hand industry knowledge. This real-world experience gives our students an edge when they graduate and start seeking employment. Having the practical experience means they can start contributing immediately to the organisations they join. This is a great advantage for our students and the organisations that hire them.

Other things the set us apart from other providers are class sizes and individual attention to students. Each class has a maximum of 20 students, which means that our teachers provide individual attention to our students. Our professional teachers are always available for any students who may require extra support.

Include data in your award submission when appropriate.

Some award submission criteria will ask for specific numbers about your organisation. To improve your chances of success, do the research to find what has been asked for. For example, in response to the question ‘How would you describe the growth of your business in the last 3 years? Please illustrate by using examples such as turnover, profit, number of staff, market share, opening new premises etc.’

The answer we wrote included:

‘Our business has grown substantially in many areas over the last three years. This growth has included increasing:

  • the number of active clients from 230 to 345
  • the number of products we stock from 1,850 to 2,675.
  • staff from 65 to 87
  • capacity to serve more clients by moving our Melbourne warehouse to larger premises and opening our Sydney showroom
  • turnover by 85%
  • profit from 15% of gross sales to 21% of gross sales.’

Keep your writing as simple as possible in your award submission.

Be as simple and clear as possible when writing an award submission. This means avoiding jargon, complicated words and corporate buzzwords. Also, avoid long sentences and long paragraphs as these will make your award submission harder to read. You can get tips on clear and concise business writing in 10 Ways to Improve Your Business Writing and Editing Your Business Writing to Make It More Readable.

Proofread and get feedback before submitting your award submission.

Writing an award submission isn’t the end of the process. Have a colleague read over it to give you feedback for improvement. Getting another perspective can help you add supporting material and clarify anything that might be ambiguous or unclear.

Proofread your award submission as a final step. Check for inconsistencies and grammar and spelling errors. As the writer, you are more likely to overlook your own mistakes. So have a colleague or friend proofread the award submission as well.

Even if you don’t win the award submission, you haven’t wasted your time. You can revise and re-use the content in other documents and publications, such as case studies, company profiles, proposals and capability statements. You have also gained experience as an award submission writer, so you can do better next time.

If you are working on an award submission and need assistance, we will be glad to discuss our award submission writing and editing services with you.

Michael Gladkoff

Content Writer Ideas for Creating Interesting and Relevant Content

As a content writer, I have had the opportunity to learn about many industries and develop relevant and interesting content.

The role of a content writer is not the same as that of a copywriter. The goal of a content writer is to inform your readers and highlight the organisation’s expertise as an industry leader. On the other hand, a copywriter focuses on promotional writing, which is usually about the features and benefits of your products and services, and the credibility of your organisation.

Given the goals of a content writer, what should you write about?

The first step as a content writer is to stand in the shoes of the potential reader. Questions to ask as a content writer are:

  • What is the profile of the typical reader?
  • What are the problems and challenges that the content will help them solve?
  • What is newsworthy in your sector?

As a freelance content writer, I begin by discussing the target audience with the client and how the organisation’s expertise intersects with readers’ interests. Having this knowledge, we can brainstorm potential topics. This is where the creative process begins for the content writer.

How do you come up with ideas as a content writer?

If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, there are many options creating content. A few ideas include:

  • Developments in your industry
  • Overviews of the latest developments of products and services
  • Changes to legislation and market conditions
  • How to choose the right product or service — regardless of which supplier is chosen
  • Interviews with industry experts.

If you start thinking creatively about content, the topics are seemingly limitless. Here are some examples the articles I have written for a range of businesses:

  •  For a mortgage broker’s website, I wrote articles informative articles on relevant topics that would be of interest to potential home owners and investors. These included:
    • Lender’s Mortgage Insurance
    • Low Doc and No Doc Loans
    • Property Development Funding
    • Cross Collateralisation.
  • As a content writer for a business advisory service, I wrote articles on a number of business topics to help business owners. These included:
    • Using Video Marketing to Build Your Business
    • Choosing the Right Computers For Your Business
    • Cloud Computing Basics
    • Cross-Promotion to Grow Your Business
    • Tips for Stretching Our IT Budget
    • Alternative Financing Options.
  • For a mattress and sleep solutions provider, I wrote articles on a range of sleep related topics. This included:
    • Tips for Choosing the Right Pillow
    • Understanding the Relationship Between The Quality Of Sleep And Blood Pressure
    • How Poor Sleep Can Lead to Increased Stress Levels Throughout the Day
    • The Relationship Between Sleep and Success
    • The Economic Cost of Poor Sleep in Australia.
  • As a content writer for a mortgage industry software solutions provider, I wrote:
    • Articles based on interviews with industry leaders
    • Summaries and relevant highlights of Reserve Bank reports
    • Reports on industry association meetings that I attended
    • Reports on court cases affecting the industry
    • Analysis of legislation and its impacts on mortgage lending professionals.

As mentioned, the role of a content writer is not the same as a copywriter. The content writer informs readers and highlights the organisation’s industry expertise and authority – not promote its products and services.

Michael Gladkoff

Business Writing Training – Selecting a Business Writing Course

Searching online for business writing training will bring up hundreds of results in Australia. So how do you choose the right business writing training for your organisation?

Here are a few questions to consider when looking at the options for training to improve business writing skills:

What is the experience of the trainer delivering business writing training?

Many business writing training courses are taught be facilitators who do not have hands-on experience practising business writing. The trainer will teach a range of courses. For example, negotiating skills, team building, conflict resolution, time management and business writing. These facilitators simply use a facilitator’s guide to stay one step ahead of the students. For best results, choose a business writing trainer who has real world experience in writing and editing business documents.

Does the business writing training address your organisation’s specific needs and challenges?

Each organisation’s skills differ, so it’s essential to tailor training. This begins by discussing and analysing the organisation’s communication. Looking over writing examples from staff members will give the trainer a better understanding of how written communication can be improved. In connection to the previous point, an experienced business writer —who is not just a facilitator — will be able to determine strengths and weaknesses of the organisation’s writing.

Does the business writing training offer the option of follow up coaching?

Business writing training can boost the skills of staff. But will they maintain and implement their new skills? This is where coaching comes in. Following up — in person or with email communication — will reinforce the skills gained from the training.

Does the business writing training offer ongoing supplemental resources?

Access to examples of effective writing and templates will help staff implement and maintain skills gained from the training. These resources can be offered online in a searchable format for easy access.

There are many training options available. The challenge is to find training that will have a lasting impact. Selecting  training based on the above criteria will help you create long-term improvement.

For information on business writing training offered by Word Nerds, go to our Business Writing Brilliance course page.

 

Should You Use Abbreviations in Your Content Writing?

The controversy concerning the use of abbreviations in content writing was around long before mobile phones and texting. Although using abbreviations in your content writing can be an effective way to save space and get your message across more quickly, it can also hinder your communication by making your writing less clear and understandable.

When to use abbreviations in your content writing

As a general rule, you should only use abbreviations in your content writing when you have very limited space to work with. For example, it can be suitable to abbreviate long words if you don’t have much room to work with – such as in charts, graphs, spreadsheets and footnotes.

Most of the time it is not necessary to abbreviate your words. For example, I was editing a quarterly newsletter for a client who wrote Jan to Mar Newsletter in the heading and in other parts of the publication. There was plenty of room to write January to March Newsletter, but for some reason the writer decided to abbreviate the names of the months.

In editing other publications, I have noticed that some writers tend to abbreviate certain words for no reason. Common examples include mths for months, approx or appx for approximately  and hrs for hours. Again, in most of these instances there was plenty of space and no need to abbreviate these words. From an editor’s perspective (and most likely for readers as well) it looks unprofessional to abbreviate words when it’s not necessary.

Using acronyms in your content writing

Acronyms are a common form of abbreviation found in content writing. They can convey information quickly and with less space. But when should you use them? First, ask yourself ‘Will everyone reading my document understand what the acronym means?’ If not, define the acronym the first time you use it. For example, ‘The Building Code of Australia (BCA) is a uniform set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures throughout Australia.’  If your publication has multiple sections and chapters, you will want to define the term at the beginning of each part because readers won’t always read it from the beginning to the end.

If you use many abbreviations in your documents and publications, and you are not sure all readers will be familiar with them, you should consider including a glossary that defines these terms.

Another time to think about acronyms is when speaking to groups. If you are speaking to an industry group and you are confident that all audience members will understand the terminology, using acronyms will save time. When you are not sure that all audience members will understand the acronyms, define them the first time you use them. For example, ‘Today I will be speaking about our company’s EBITDA last financial year. EBITDA means earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation.’ You might also want to explain the term in more detail if you think it is necessary for some members of your audience.

Refer to style guides for guidance on when and how to use abbreviations in your content writing

Style guides can be very helpful when you have questions about how and when to use abbreviations in your content writing.

In Australia, the Style manual for authors, editors and printers offers a complete chapter with guidance on using abbreviations (shortened forms) in many situations. In summarising shortened forms, the Style manual states:

Writers use shortened forms of words and phrases to produce more compact expression. If readers are familiar with those that are used, communication can be more efficient. But if shortened forms might be new to at least some readers, think carefully about whether the really are necessary. A publications level of formality and the potential number of shortened forms in it should also be taken into account.

Similarly, the Chicago Manual of Style includes a full chapter on using abbreviations and states:

Outside of the area of science and technology, abbreviations and symbols appear most frequently in tabular matter, notes, bibliographies, and parenthetical references. Abbreviations should be used only in contexts where they are clear to readers. Some are never used in their spelled-out form (IQ, GOP, DNA) and may be used without explanation. Others, though in common use (HMO, UPS, AT&T), are normally spelled out at first occurrence — at least in formal text — as a courtesy to those readers who might not easily recognize them. Less familiar ones, however, should be used only if they occur, say, five times or more within an article or chapter, and the terms must be spelled out on the first occurrence.

 

 

Writing an Executive Summary to Clearly Summarise Your Document

Writing an executive summary for reports, proposals and other business documents is an important step. An executive summary makes it easy for readers to get a quick overview of the document and can create the interest so it gets read.

Writing an executive summary does not have to be a frustrating experience. By following these tips the next time you need to write an executive summary, you will take the stress out of the task.

Woman executive at a desk writing an executive summary.

1. Start the executive summary after the document has been finalised.

The objective of the summary is to review what is contained in the rest of the document. So make sure you have a final version of the document before you begin writing the executive summary. I remember someone suggesting that the executive summary should be written first and act as a guide for writing the rest of the document. But this does not make sense because you will often change the content and structure after you complete a draft of the document and begin reviewing it. If you want to create a guide before writing, create an outline.

2. Keep it short when writing an executive summary.

The executive summary should convey the objective and key points of the document in the fewest words possible. It is often recommended that the maximum length of the summary not exceed one page.  For some academic publications, the rule is that the executive summary should not exceed 10 per cent of the word count for the rest of the publication. In a business environment, where decision-makers are overwhelmed with information, the shorter the better.

3.  Make it easy to read

As with the rest of the document, write the executive summary so that it can be read easily. This means avoiding complicated words, long sentences, jargon and corporate buzzwords. You can also make the summary easy to follow by using bullet point lists.

4. Be consistent

Use the same terminology and order of content in the executive summary as in the main part of the document. For example, if one of the main sections is called Project Goals in the document, don’t write this as Project Objectives when referring to this section in the executive summary. Also, keep the information in the same order. If one part of your  proposal covers Objectives, Challenges, Proposed Solutions and Benefits, keep these in the same order in the executive summary.

5. Don’t include new material when writing an executive summary

The summary should only include what is covered in the publication. You should not try to embellish and add new material. Also, the executive summary should not be an introduction – if you think the document needs an introduction, then it should be a stand-alone section. Typically, the introduction would come after the executive summary.

The executive summary is an essential component in many business documents and publications. Writing an executive summary is probably the last thing that you feel like doing after completing a long document. But following the tips outlined will make the task easier and enable you to create an effective summary.

 

Writing Email to Connect and Communicate Clearly

Writing email is one of the most common activities in the business environment. Yet too many emails fail to connect and communicate the writer’s desired message.

Here are a few tips on writing email to ensure that your messages make an impact and get the results you want.

Have a clear subject and subject line

Have you ever received an email with a subject line that was not relevant to the content? The sender might have replied to an earlier email with a different subject or simply failed to think about the subject line. It’s important that the reader knows what the email is about from the beginning, especially if it’s an important subject. If the subject line does not reflect the urgency, for example, it might not be read in time or read at all. Professional email marketers know that a good subject line is critical for getting their emails opened and read. Keep this in mind when writing your email’s subject line.

Before you start writing, decide what action you want the reader to take and create your subject around this. Keep it simple. If you have more than one point to make in your email, organise them clearly – even use bullet points or numbers to separate each point.

Begin with a positive note when writing email

With all the challenges people face throughout the day, it’s always good to say something positive when writing email. For example, you can thank the person for their previous message or mention that you enjoyed speaking with them earlier in the day.

Write short paragraphs 

Breaking up your text into shorter paragraphs makes your email easier to read. You probably have come across a huge paragraph in an email and stopped reading. When writing email, start a new paragraph when you begin a new idea. You might even have one-sentence paragraphs. There’s nothing wrong with this and it makes it easier for the recipient to read.

Use plain and simple language when writing email

Although, I’ve mentioned this in other blog posts, it’s worth repeating these simple tips:

  • Use the simplest words possible to convey your message.
  • Avoid long and drawn out sentences.
  • Don’t use jargon or buzzwords, especially if the reader might not be familiar with them.

For more details on these points, go to Editing Your Business Writing to Make it More Readable.

End with a call to action – and something positive as well

The end of the email is where you can give a call to action to the reader. What do you want them to do? Respond with yes or no answer, provide more information, set up a meeting? Be clear about this when writing email to get the response you want. Also, the end of the email is a good place to express something else in a positive way. This could be expressing gratitude, complimenting the recipient on recent achievements, or looking forward to catching up with them in person soon.

Writing email does not have to be difficult. Follow the steps outlined in this article to write emails that enable you to communicate your message clearly and connect with recipients.

Michael Gladkoff

 

 

Business Writing Tips – 10 Ways to Improve Your Business Writing

Business Writing Tips from Word Nerds

Have a business writing task you need to complete.  Apply these simple business writing tips for more clear and persuasive communication.

  1. Know your objectives and market before you begin writing

This sounds simple but is sometimes forgotten. Before you begin you should know what the objective of your writing is.  If writing a product brochure, for example, do you want the readers to request more information or go to your website to buy your product? The goal of some business documents might be to raise your credibility in the eyes of potential buyers. For example, a company profile for a business with a complex and expensive offering will focus on the strengths and reliability of the company, and not attempt to get readers to buy the product or service immediately. Proposals are another type of business document, with the goals of showing the organisation’s credibility, reliability and the value you offer at the proposed price.

Along with your objective, it’s essential to have a good idea of who your potential buyers are. You can start by asking “How does my product or service help them overcome the challenges they face?” Surveying your existing customers can uncover this information. Once you know how your customers see your product and its benefits, and how it solves their problems, you can tailor your writing to emphasise their needs.

Download the remaining business writing tips at Business Writing Tips from Word Nerds.

 

Writing a Company Newsletter to Connect with Your Customers and Build Credibility

Writing a company newsletter and distributing it to your clients and prospects will bring your business many benefits. By writing a company newsletter, you will keep people informed about company developments, such as new products, services and offers. A newsletter will help you maintain regular contact and remind clients about your company at an affordable cost.  Writing a newsletter will also build your company’s credibility by showing your industry expertise.

Shows a company newsletter on a tablet device. Writing a company newsletter can boost your company's image.

The first and most important questions “Who will be reading the newsletter?” and “What should I write about to make it interesting for the readers?” Fortunately, there’s so much to cover you should have no problem coming up with ideas for interesting content.

Here are a few of the things you can cover when writing a company newsletter:

1. Message from the CEO or other leader – this message can cover the latest developments in your company and industry, and include helpful ideas and insights. The leader’s message should be conversational and friendly, as if the CEO were speaking to a small group of your clients. Having this type of message at the beginning will give your company newsletter a personal touch.

2. Success stories – show how your products or services helped solve a problem for one of your clients. If you can, try to find concrete measures of how the customer’s business was improved, such as “Our product increased output by 15%”.  Also, quotations from customers will go a long way to build your company’s credibility.

3. Product or service news – write to inform clients and prospects of how your products or services have changed. Maybe they have been improved based on client feedback or they might have changed to meet regulatory requirements.

4. Tips and how-to articles – share your expertise and help make the lives or your newsletter readers easier. This could be how to use one of your products more effectively, get the most from your services, and select, install and maintain products. Even if you are giving free advice on how customers can do something themselves, many will still call upon you to do it because you are the expert who can do it faster and more effectively.

5. Stories about your staff – this could include news about new hires, promotions, anniversaries, and awards. You can also cover what employees do outside of work, such as volunteering in the community.

6. Photos with detailed captions – these will add some colour to your newsletter. You can show people on the job, working with your products, at trade shows and special events, and more.

7. Industry news – you can go in depth about your industry and those of the clients you serve. Topics to cover could include changes in the industry, new legislation, technological developments, and new challenges.

8. Community involvement – you can write about how your organisation participates in the community. This might include supporting charities, volunteering, providing scholarships, training new graduates through internship programs, speaking at schools and universities, and caring for the environment.

9. Interviews – you can interview key employees, industry experts, managers, customers and suppliers. Make sure that your interview includes information that will be interesting to your readers. 

10. Special deals and offers – although a company newsletter should focus on showing your expertise and building credibility, you can use it for special offers. But make sure that you offer plenty of free information and advice before you sell. Some internet marketers recommend making at least four contacts with free information before you sell anything. It would not be appropriate to have the beginning of your first newsletter promoting a special offer. Build trust and rapport first, and then you can make special offers.

These are only a handful of ideas you can use for  writing a company newsletter. A good place to start is writing your ideas down and researching to determine which content will interest, inform and influence your readers.

Writing a Company Profile to Build Your Business Credibility

The importance of writing a company profile is often overlooked. Your company profile can be an effective tool for presenting your organisation to the rest of the world. Despite the rise of the internet and social media, there still is a place for the traditional company profile that doesn’t directly sell products or services, but builds the image and credibility of a business.

Also called a business profile or corporate profile, a company profile summarises an organisation’s purpose, history, function, and outlook. A well-written business profile makes it possible to quickly and easily present key information to the media, potential customers and investors, and the general public.

Puzzle showing values, vision and mission, which are elements used when writing a company profile.

What should be included when writing a company profile?

Having written many company profiles for a wide range of organisations, I will share my insights as a company profile writer.

There’s no exact formula for writing a company profile. The type of information you include and the length of the company profile will depend on your organisation and what you are trying to achieve.

Here are a few items that are typically included when writing a company profile.

  • Mission statement – summarising the company’s purpose.
  • Leader’s message – a short message from the CEO/Director can briefly explain the mission, goals, achievements and importance of the business in a broader context.
  • General overview of what your business does – this can include a brief explanation of the types of products and/or services offered. It’s not necessary to go into detail, as this can be covered in product or service brochures and website.
  • Company history – established businesses often have notable stories behind them about past successes and the challenges they have overcome. New businesses might be able to highlight the experience of the founders and what inspired them to begin the venture.
  • Successes and milestones – this can include short case studies explaining how your company has helped its customers and an overview of important accomplishments.
  • Awards and certifications – include any awards or industry certifications that are required to do your work.
  • Profiles of key personnel – these should be in a consistent style and include the same type of information. When writing staff profiles, we ask these questions for creating staff profiles to get the information needed.
  • Corporate governance – your approach to meeting legal requirements.
  • Social responsibility – how your business aligns its values and behaviour with the expectations and needs of stakeholders — customers, investors, employees, suppliers, communities, and society as a whole.
  • Company culture – this could include your organisation’s outlook when it comes to staff development, occupational health and safety, and the overall work environment.
  • Financial performance – if a publicly traded company, include a summary of the most recent financial data.

By no means is this a complete list; your company profile might need to cover other subject areas not included here. For most of these sections, the key questions to ask when writing a company profile are “What makes us stand out from others?” and “What makes us memorable?”

The aim of writing a company profile is to lift your organisation’s image and raise its credibility. So it’s okay to boast a bit about your company and its achievements.

Here are examples of company profiles we have written, including a business overview for a multinational company. The type of content you include in your company profile will depend on your business, the intended readers and your goals.

If you need assistance with your company profile, please contact us to discuss our company profile writing services.

Michael Gladkoff

How to Use Short Words for Better Business Writing

In previous posts on making business writing more readable, we have discussed the importance of using short and simple words. In the following passage from the Members’ Handbook of the Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL), see how short words are essential for clear and effective writing.

Short Words

You don’t have to use long words when you speak or write. Most of the time, you can make your points quite well with short ones. In fact, big words may get in the way of what you want to say. And what’s more, when you use short words, no one will need to look them up to learn what they mean.

Short words can make us feel good. They can run and jump and dance and soar high in the clouds. They can kill the chill of a cold night and help us keep our cool on a hot day. They fill our hearts with joy, but they can bring tears to our eyes as well. A short word can be soft or strong. It can sting like a bee or sing like a lark. Small words of love can move us, charm us, lull us to sleep. Short words give us light and hope and peace and love and health ─ and a lot more good things. A small word can be as sweet as the taste of a ripe pear, or tart like plum jam.

Small words make us think. In fact, they are the heart and the soul of clear thought.

When you write, choose the short word if you can find one that will let you say what you want to say. If there is no short word, then go ahead and consider the utilisation of a sesquipedalian expression as a viable alternative, but be cognisant of the actuality that it could conceivably be incumbent upon many of your perusers to expand, by consulting a dictionary or perhaps an alternative lexicon of particularised patois, copious amounts of their invaluable time in attempting to determine the message you are endeavoring to impart to them through the instrumentality of your missive.

Richard Dowis
From Members’ Handbook of the Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL)