How professional is your business communication? Whether you’re writing copy for your own business or on behalf of the business, government or nonprofit organisation you work for, the quality of your communication can affect the outcome. Likewise, you may have the technical or practical skills for that opportunity you’re applying for, but your writing skills may let you down.
Attention to detail matters. Whether it’s fair or not, your reader may form judgements based on the tone of your communication or the errors they find. Your copy could even put doubt in their mind about your ability to provide the high-quality product or service they need.
Clear, concise, correct copy makes an impact, yet in our haste to get the job done, business communication can be last-minute, which can compromise the aim and outcome.
Hiring a professional copywriter isn’t always an option or even the best choice in every case. For example, a business report may be written by company experts who understand the industry and the data. Bringing a copywriter up to speed may not be possible within the delivery timeframe. But hiring a copy-editor is always a wise decision.
When you’re too close to your writing, the message can be clear to you yet ambiguous to your readers. You may not think about the most appropriate language and tone to reach your audience and represent your brand. What’s more, for people who don’t have native fluency in English, a native speaker can make sure your message and nuances aren’t lost in translation. And the more familiar you are with a piece of writing, the harder it is to spot errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling. A fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference.
Your written communication could be your first point of contact with potential customers, suppliers, employers, publishers or examiners. Make sure your copy is first class by reviewing like a copy-editor. Even better, work with a professional copy-editor who can improve your text while preserving your unique voice.
A copy-editor first considers high-level issues such as structure, clarity and flow. They copy-edit with plain English and your target audience and brand voice in mind. Then they correct errors in grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation.
Editing for plain English
You might think that complex sentences, uncommon words and the passive voice show intelligence and command respect. But unless you’re writing academic texts, this style can be unappealing and risks losing readers. While Ernest Hemingway’s economical style might be considered the extreme of plain English, writing that is easily understood isn’t only preferred by human readers. Search engines like it too. Writing that is heavy with adjectives and adverbs looks flabby against Hemingway’s lean simplicity. In his revision process, he made every word count. And when readers have different socio-economic backgrounds, clear English makes writing more widely accessible.
Plain English also helps busy people absorb information quickly and shows that you respect their time. Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style is a good place to find key tips on style and as you might expect, it’s a compact guide too! If you want people to read your writing, you need to make it easy for them.
Editing for the target audience
Effective communication isn’t just about delivering your message to your readers. It’s also about using appropriate language, style and tone. If you’re writing a technical text for a general audience, for example, you’ll need to avoid industry jargon and explain complex ideas using everyday language and analogies. By putting yourself in your reader’s shoes, you can write with empathy, engagement and most importantly, persuasion.
Editing for brand voice
When your business-to-consumer copy is written in a consistent brand voice, you become familiar to your customers. Brand identity helps nurture loyalty. Your readers know what to expect and they aren’t disappointed. Consistency in your business-to-business copy is equally important, demonstrating professionalism that businesses look for. It can be helpful to develop your own communication style guide, including pointers on brand voice, word choice and spelling preferences. A style guide helps establish a consistent approach to your written communication regardless of the author.
Editing for errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation
While sloppy copy may not seem like a big deal, it can lose customers and opportunities. A slack approach to writing may signal a slack approach to other aspects of your work. Whether a business brand or personal brand, your writing can indicate how much you value getting things right. Error-free copy isn’t a priority for every reader, of course, but why risk making a negative impression?
Do you need help rewriting or polishing your business or personal copy? Whether you work in British or American English, our experienced and professional copy-editors can transform your words into effective, error-free copy. Find out more about our copy-editing and proofreading services and get in touch today to discuss what you need.