Posts Taged tips

Streamline Your Writing: Five Tips

Steve Jobs once said: “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” Throughout your PR and writing career, you have heard more than once to tighten up your pitches, your white papers or your press releases. While it takes practice, the result is worth the effort.

Below are five tips to keep your writing clear and concise.

Avoid passive language.

Is the object of your sentence in the position where the subject should be? If so, it’s probably passive. For example, “The dog was walked by me” should read: “I walked the dog”.

Don’t rely on adverbs as descriptors.

Instead, use a descriptive adjective. Not only can adverbs dilute a sentence’s meaning, but they add unnecessary word count. Instead of writing, “He ate his dinner quickly,” say: “He devoured his dinner”.

Use words that resonate with your audience.

While it might be tempting to infuse your writing with large words or esoteric terminology, in most cases, this approach is not appropriate for your audience. Unless you are writing a technical piece or white paper, aim for a straightforward style.

Minimize prepositions.

Prepositions are used to connect nouns and pronouns to each other. Examples include: “of, for, to, by, at, from, on or into”. Instead of saying “The captain of the boat,” you can tighten the sentence by two words by saying: “the boat’s captain”.

Avoid redundant language.

Proofread your piece for words that can be eliminated because they don’t add meaning. For example, you can eliminate “exact” from the phrase, “exact same,” and “time” from the phrase, “present time”. Pay a visit to this site for 200 common redundancies.

Do you have tips or questions about writing more clearly and concisely? If so, we’re all ears. Share your comments and feedback below.

Dealing with Negative Social Media Comments: You Can’t Just Delete

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Social media allows brands to connect with their consumers on a pretty cool, personal level. When you set up a social media account and get things rolling, it can also be a nice ego boost. Things have been going well on your company’s Facebook page – people are liking, commenting on, and sharing your posts. Some have left nice 5 star reviews on your page. Your followers are climbing every day, and you’re getting great reach on your paid ad placements.

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And then, it happens – someone posts a negative review or comment. It’s easy to feel angry. Here’s this ugly comment tarnishing your sterling social media branding efforts. Can’t you just delete it from existence, and then forget about it? Well, no, you can’t. And you can’t just ignore it either. Both of these responses can take a molehill issue and make it a mountain. There are a few steps you need to take to not only deal with the comment, but turn it into a positive experience for your brand.

  • Really read the review or comment. Is this something that needs investigated?

Even though it’s frustrating, turn on your customer service skills and really read the person’s complaints. What went wrong for them? It’s worthwhile to go to the team members involved (if any are mentioned, or you can deduce who may be) and get their take. Things happen, team members slip up, and customers get upset. Mistakes are often an opportunity for customer service improvements. The commenter’s complaint may also highlight that certain policies your company has aren’t working.  If you put yourself in the commenter’s shoes, you may be able to better see that yes, this circumstance would upset you, too.

  • Respond to the original comment as soon as possible, and get it out of the public eye.

You can respond to the comment even while gathering more information for your team. As soon as you see the comment, respond with a brief answer that shows empathy, a desire to help, and a call to action to move the discussion out of public view. Something like, “John, we are so sorry to hear this. This isn’t the experience we strive to provide. Can you email us at xyz@brand.com with more details? Thank you!” would work well.

  • Follow through with a solution.

Showing empathy isn’t enough, however. You still have to follow through with finding a solution. Hopefully the commenter will take you up on your request to email or direct message you (if they continue to respond in public view, try prodding them again to come to email/direct message while responding as best you can without giving out private information). Talk to team members involved and put together a plan. Step one explained above is useful now in designing this response plan; would the issue be resolved with a refund, or is something deeper needed? If a service wasn’t performed, that’s one thing, and easily fixed with a return or refund. However, if the commenter is, say, accusing an employee of racism, an in-depth internal investigation may be needed before you can circle back with the commenter. This would require figuring out what actually happened, making a public apology, and maybe even changing policies if the commenter is telling the truth.

  • Share takeaways with your team.

No matter what your response plan is, be sure to share notes with your team afterward. There is likely a learning opportunity here. In some instances, team members may be able to highlight policies and procedures they think aren’t working and could have led to the issue. In a best case scenario, the commenter will leave much happier, and you will be able to use the event to avoid a similar issue in the future. Sometimes, angry commenters can be become brand loyalists after you’ve seen an issue through.

  • A Troll in the dungeon.

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Some people just want to watch the world burn. Occasionally, you will get comments from people who apparently have nothing good to say about anything, or just have too much free time on their hands. If you have a commenter of the first type, your team could have done everything right and exceptionally well, and this person would still be upset. Even if they’re just looking for free stuff, working with them and offering a refund may still be worth your time and brand image. For type number two, you really don’t have much opportunity for recourse. You’ll know them when you see them. Their comment is likely inflammatory, vulgar, and very obviously a lie. Still take the time to consider it, and even give an opening for response via email or direct message; just understand you probably won’t hear from them. However, if the comment is slanderous, threatening, or uses over-the-top language, this is your free pass to delete it and block the commenter. If the comment got some traction and responses before deleting, you’ll need to post a brief response to your page explaining why you deleted it, and re-iterate your company’s ethical standards. Either way, delete it without guilt, and move on care free!