Posts Taged writing-2

Is Jargon Bad?

Is jargon bad?

Forward-facing innovators can optimize deliverables by leveraging a holistic view of language.

Last weekend I used the word “optimize” while out with friends. My husband nudged me. “You’re using your business jargon in real life again,” he whispered. My work is a nonstop cycle of blogs, articles, brochures, press releases, POVs, web copy and white papers, many of them for clients in technology or management services. It’s no wonder these words are creeping into my daily conversations more and more. But is jargon bad?

Like most people in buzzword-laden professions, I have strong opinions on the specifics. Still, I’m careful not to write off jargon simply because it’s popular. Content that is all jargon is garbage, but so is content that is all metaphors, or exclamation points, or flowery language. Just as metaphors, exclamation points and verbal curlicues have their time and place, so does jargon. Some terms – including “evergreen” and “disrupt” – are actually delightfully tactile. I don’t like “game-changing” or “siloed,” though I’ll admit to using them. On the other hand, “synergy” and “actualize” make me want to pour hot tea over my keyboard and then bang on it with the mug.

It may be annoying, but is jargon bad? As a writer, it’s my responsibility to communicate messages well. Compelling content requires creativity; clarity is even more important. But writing doesn’t simply relay information: Writing relays specific information meant to leave a specific impression on a specific audience. My work must be unique but still aligned with the client’s voice and industry. Because most of the content and thought leadership projects we produce at A.wordsmith will be consumed by our clients’ peers and customers, they must fit the style that those audiences expect. Sometimes, that style is business-ese.

The business-ese code

The process is similar to code-switching. I don’t speak to my boss the same way I speak to my husband. I use a higher pitch when interacting with a three-year-old, and it’s different than the small talk I make with my Uber driver. I say “ya’ll” when checking in with old friends from Atlanta, throw in Yiddish phrases when chatting with family in New Jersey and dampen my energy with colleagues here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s not limited to verbal communication, either: Watch how President Obama greets a member of the coaching staff for the US Olympic basketball team and then, without missing a beat, changes his body language to address a player.

Is jargon bad?

Barack Obama code-switches like a pro

The change doesn’t indicate insincerity: Neither of these is “the real Obama.” We communicate differently according to our environment and interlocutors. It’s a practice called code-switching, and it’s a natural feature of language that we unconsciously use to indicate relationships, power and culture.

Business jargon is a kind of code that represents the culture of professional interactions. It uses sleek, trendy, smart language because consultants and tech companies acquire business and impress peers by coming off as sleek, trendy and smart. Using the appropriate verbiage establishes credibility by demonstrating that the speaker (or writer) knows what they’re doing and respects the norms of the environment.

Jargon on purpose

We need to get over the idea that jargon for the sake of jargon is wrong. Jargon actually serves a very specific purpose. It’s a hallmark of poor writing, but it’s also a component of skilled and appropriate business communications. My husband sees optimize as a ridiculous word, and, three beers in on a Saturday night, it is. It would be equally ridiculous to write “try really hard to do our very best” in a formal POV targeting CIOs. The challenge is to distinguish between the two, and then infuse the vernacular with enough energy and charm to make it stand out while still fitting in. Every word has a place, even the cloying business jargon we love to hate.

Except for synergy – synergy is gibberish.

What My Public Relations Degree Taught Me

What My Public Relations Degree Taught Me

“What My Public Relations Degree Taught Me” is part two of a mini-series on education and being a millennial in the world of PR, from some of our young professionals at A.wordsmith. Read part one here.

 

I veered towards PR after five years in the education and nonprofit world. The overlap between development and communications is significant, but I realized that specialized training would give me an advantage in the market and elevate my skillset. I pursued a Master’s in Management Communications with a Concentration in Marketing and Public Relations. This mouthful of a degree combined a wide mix of journalism, sociology, social media, marketing, research, and rhetorical methods courses into a surprisingly cohesive curriculum. While I certainly had a lot to learn post-graduation, I graduated with an excellent grasp of the core capabilities required in public relations. These are a few  of the things my public relations degree taught me that helped me get a head start in my PR career:

What makes great writing

The writing skills taught in kindergarten through college programs often focus on grammar and basic style guidelines. I believe that great writing requires this knowledge. I can easily bore even the most earnest listener with my zeal for the Oxford comma, my personal relationships with Strunk & White and Harbrace, and my embarrassing crush on The New Yorker’s diaereses.

However, advanced writing requires something richer. One of my courses focused almost exclusively on metaphors. Another guided me through sensory writing about music and food. Still others spent time on the logistics of understanding and cooperating with your audience. These exercises gave me the toolbox and the je ne sais quoi that makes great writing great, and the ability to tap them for the vast range of topics and markets that our PR clients belong to.

How to become an expert in anything

When I explain that much of my work involves writing and working on articles with media outlets, the next question is always, “About what?”

“Whatever the client needs.”

On any given day, I may be producing content about anything from the FDA approval process for prescription drugs to the hidden gems of southern Oregon wine country. The tasks can rarely be boiled down to simple copywriting or editing – most of the time I am researching, developing, and presenting complex subjects. I spend hours poring over articles and blogs, perusing competitor thought leadership, and interviewing subject matter experts. Fortunately, rigorous research requirements in school left me quite adept at zigzagging through academic databases and lay publications. My marketing coursework primed me in strategic competitor research. I owe my interview skills to a fastidious journalism adjunct and a supportive qualitative research methods professor. These skills let me become an overnight expert in just about anything – and I couldn’t produce quality work without them.

What My Public Relations Degree Taught Me

Why we tell stories

We tell stories because they work. Stories are at the root of communication. They’re more engaging and can reach a wide audience. In every course I took – from Social Media and Culture to Applied Marketing Strategies – the importance of storytelling was pounded into our minds. Journalists and editors can sniff right through a pitch about a nonstory. The case studies A.wordsmith writes tell a company’s success story with a certain goal in mind, and even web copy has greater impact if it illustrates the point. PR shares messages, and the best messages are usually couched in stories.

Look for part 3 of this series next week!

 Have you Heard These Clever PR Terms?

Thesaurus

As a word junkie, I’m always excited to uncover a new language resource. I recently stumbled upon Word Spy, a site that indexes clever PR terms and novel or underappreciated words and phrases. It’s unique in that it tracks neologisms that are both useful and usable. As the site describes, “Word Spy…[looks] for fresh words and phrases that aren’t mere ‘stunt words’ or ‘sniglets’ that were coined once and then never used again.”

Poking around Word Spy is an intriguing way to waste the better part of an afternoon, but it might come in handy during a writing project when the words just don’t feel quite right…

 

Word Spy Words

My favorites of the site’s clever PR terms and writing words

When good writers can’t find the topic…

clever pr terms

They turn to default stories…

clever pr terms

Or social media…

clever pr terms

They go all in with the nouns…

clever pr terms

But still stick to good grammar…

clever pr terms

Even if they’re twisting the story a bit…

clever pr terms

 

More fun at Word Spy.

What Thought Leadership is Not

thought leadership

Thought leadership” is often considered a buzzword in the marketing and PR world – little more than a spruced up advertisement for a company. However, if your content marketing pieces fit this description, then you’re not doing thought leadership. Thought leadership can be a strong, useful addition to a content marketing program and goes well beyond stuffing a reused blog full of keywords and hoping a Forbes editor will run it.

To understand what good thought leadership looks like, it can be beneficial to know what bad content looks like. Here’s what thought leadership is not:

Thought Leadership is Not Link Building

The main goal of thought leadership is not boosting your SEO program. That’s not to say these two programs can’t work together – they certainly can. A well-written thought leadership piece placed in a publication important to your business’ audience might also include a link to your website in your author bio. This is a great bonus and can help your company’s SEO results, but this should be considered a plus, not the end goal. Editors are not looking for opportunities to publish links to businesses’ websites, they’re looking to partner with thought leaders who can provide useful, actionable insights for their readers. Draft and pitch your thought leadership ideas with this at the forefront of your mind, and you will have more success in placing your content.

content writing

Thought Leadership is Not About You

Since editors want content that is relevant for their readers, it’s important to remember that this also means your thought leadership content isn’t about you. While it seems counter intuitive to say that a program designed to position yourself as a thought leader is not about you, this concept is the foundation of well-written pieces. Your content can and certainly should involve things you’ve learned and how you’ve built your personal expertise, but you should frame your articles with your readers in mind. What is useful to them? How can you help them on this topic? Your purpose isn’t to highlight your accomplishments and boost your ego. Focusing on your readers first makes an article more relevant, useful, and likely to be published.

Thought Leadership is Not a Chance to Talk About Your Company and Products

It all comes back to your readers – thought leadership isn’t about your company or products, either. While this type of content ultimately boosts your brand image, it isn’t advertising. Many publications outright prohibit contributed pieces that mention the author’s products and business in the text, and will remove links back to your site. Thought leadership requires brainstorming and planning to come up with topics that don’t focus on your products and services. The key is that the topics will be mildly related to, but not centered on what your brand does. It’s also possible for thought leadership pieces to be completely unrelated to the products your company sells. Think of topics your audience is interested in and that you can talk about without using your own products as a case study or solution.

Thought Leadership is Not Copying and Pasting Your Blog Posts

Your blog can be a great starting point for topic ideas for articles. However, you can’t just take a pre-written blog and try to pitch it to an editor as a thought leadership piece. Many publications don’t want material that’s been published elsewhere, blogs included. Your blog posts will also probably need some reworking to become less advertorial and more reader focused. You can write about the same topic or a similar one, but make sure it’s tailored to your audience and the publication you want to see it in.

Good Thought Leadership Is…

Knowing what thought leadership is not provides a jumping off point to a good program. A good thought leadership article is not easy or quick to put together. It will require some research, brainstorming, and drafting. It will require a constant focus on your reader, and putting your own brand in the background. It will also require some patience – you’re probably not going to be published in Forbes right away. But focusing on quality content can lead you to opportunities with publications your readers know and respect, and eventually lead to a stronger brand image overall.

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.

Avoid Bad PR with Good Grammar

Good Grammar

There’s no shortage of articles about the enduring importance of good grammar in the modern business world. They illuminate the ways it bestows credibility on the writer, indicates professionalism, and ensures clarity and accuracy. As a grammar nut myself, I couldn’t agree more. But there’s one more thing I’d like to add to that list: bad grammar is bad PR.

Grammar gaffes go viral quickly. Just last week the world collectively snickered at attempts by Britain’s Labour Party to mock the Tories’ education record with an email titled “NEWS FROM LABOUR: Nothing is doing more to damage English & maths education than the Tory’s failure to recruit enough good teachers.” Mistakes like this used to inspire a chuckle and then fade, but today they are broadcast worldwide.

Don’t underestimate the negative reactions to poor writing. Grammarly recently released a fun infographic that notes the impact of writing skills on online dating success. The company found that just two spelling errors in a man’s online dating profile reduced his chances of a response by 14%, and that “both men and women rank grammar more important than confidence in a potential date.”

This isn’t limited by demographics, either. Millennials are actually more likely to be irked by grammar mistakes than other age groups. “While we’d assume they’d be accustomed to seeing and using abbreviated speech and lingo because they are a tech-savvy generation, we actually found that they have much higher standards,” a Harris poll found last summer.

The takeaway? If professionalism and clarity aren’t enough motivation, just remember what a mess the clean-up will be when everyone is laughing at you. Then proofread, proofread, ask a friend to proofread, ask another, and then proofread again.

Amazon’s product visualization through press release

Amazon executives are typically a reclusive bunch. So its was a rare treat when Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s senior vice president of consumer business, took the stage this week at Seattle University as part of the Albers Executive Speaker Series.

In an hour-long talk, Wilke laid out the core leadership principles that make up the tech and online retail juggernaut.

Jeff Wilke is a chemical engineer who moved his young family to Seattle in 1999 to join Amazon as the senior vice president of consumer business.

Jeff Wilke is a chemical engineer who moved his young family to Seattle in 1999 to join Amazon as the senior vice president of consumer business.

Wilke’s appearance was rare, but his presentation format — PowerPoint — was also unusual. According to Wilke internal meetings at Amazon start with everyone in the room spending up to 45 minutes reading in silence as they digest detailed documents known as “narratives.”

“We write our thoughts down because we expect leaders to deep dive,” said Wilke.

Amazon believes so strongly in the power of bringing business visualizations to life by writing them down that the company’s new product concepts start with a press release.

“We try to write the headline and the press release that you’d want to use at the launch of a new product,” said Wilke, showing a slide of the initial press releases that managers conceived for products such as AmazonSmile and AmazonStudent. “It is a way to visualize the things that we want to build.”

Putting thoughts to paper. Reading those thoughts. Sharing and selling big ideas in written form. As our communication options continue to explode its incredible to hear that a company like Amazon still considers it its most powerful method.

Here are the 14 core leadership principles as described by Wilke and on Amazon’s Web site:

Customer Obsession
Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.

Ownership
Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job.”

Invent and Simplify
Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here.” As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.

Are Right, A Lot
Leaders are right a lot. They have strong business judgment and good instincts.

Hire and Develop the Best
Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others.

Insist on the Highest Standards
Leaders have relentlessly high standards – many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high quality products, services and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.

Think Big
Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.

Bias for Action
Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.

Frugality
We try not to spend money on things that don’t matter to customers. Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.

Vocally Self Critical
Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfume. Leaders come forward with problems or information, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.

Earn Trust of Others
Leaders are sincerely open-minded, genuinely listen, and are willing to examine their strongest convictions with humility.

Dive Deep
Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, and audit frequently. No task is beneath them.

Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.

Deliver Results
Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.

AP is at it Again! Time to Spell Out State Names

US Map

For the second time in a month’s span, AP has changed the rules in writing. Effective May 1, the AP will spell out state names in the body of stories. Currently, most state names are abbreviated in stories. The change is being made to be consistent in style for domestic and international stories, as international stories traditionally spell out state names in the body of stories.

State abbreviations will continue to be used in lists, agate, tabular material, nonpublishable editor’s notes and credit lines. They will also be used in short-form identification of political party affiliation. Photo captions will continue to use abbreviations, too. This change will improve consistency and efficiency for domestic and international stories, eliminating the need to spell out all state names in international copy, and to abbreviate them in domestic copy. Please note that you will still use abbreviations in datelines, photo captions, lists, etc.

The new entry in the Stylebook online

man typing

Spell out state names

The names of the 50 U.S. states should be spelled out when used in the body of a story, whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city, town, village or military base. No state name is necessary if it is the same as the dateline. This also applies to newspapers cited in a story. For example, a story datelined Providence, R.I., would reference the Providence Journal, not the Providence (R.I.) Journal. See datelines.

Eight not abbreviated

The names of eight states are never abbreviated in datelines or text: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.

Memory aid

Spell out the names of the two states that are not part of the contiguous United States and of the continental states that are five letters or fewer.

In the body of stories

Except for cities that stand alone in datelines, use thestate name in textual material when the city or town is not in the same state as the dateline, or where necessary to avoid confusion: Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, Illinois. Provide a state identification for the city if the story has no dateline, or if the city is not in the same state as the dateline. However, cities that stand alone in datelines may be used alone in stories that have no dateline if no confusion would result.

Abbreviations required

Use the state abbreviations listed at the end of this section:

  • In conjunction with the name of a city, town, village or military base in most datelines. See datelines for examples and exceptions for large cities.
  • In lists, agate, tabular material, nonpublishable editor’s notes and credit lines.
  • In short-form listings of party affiliation: D-Ala., R-Mont. See party affiliation entry for details.

Following are the state abbreviations, which also appear in the entries for each state (postal code abbreviations in parentheses)

Ala. (AL) Md. (MD) N.D. (ND)

Ariz. (AZ) Mass. (MA) Okla. (OK)

Ark. (AR) Mich. (MI) Ore. (OR)

Calif. (CA) Minn. (MN) Pa. (PA)

Colo. (CO) Miss. (MS) R.I. (RI)

Conn. (CT) Mo. (MO) S.C. (SC)

Del. (DE) Mont. (MT) S.D. (SD)

Fla. (FL) Neb. (NE) Tenn. (TN)

Ga. (GA) Nev. (NV) Vt. (VT)

Ill. (IL) N.H. (NH) Va. (VA)

Ind. (IN) N.J. (NJ) Wash. (WA)

Kan. (KS) N.M. (NM) W.Va. (WV)

Ky. (KY) N.Y. (NY) Wis. (WI)

La. (LA) N.C. (NC) Wyo. (WY)

These are the postal code abbreviations for the eight states that are not abbreviated in datelines or text: AK (Alaska), HI (Hawaii), ID (Idaho), IA (Iowa), ME (Maine), OH (Ohio), TX (Texas), UT (Utah). Also: District of Columbia (DC).

Use the two-letter Postal Service abbreviations only with full addresses, including ZIP code.

Punctuation

Place one comma between the city and the state name, and another comma after the state name, unless ending a sentence or indicating a dateline: He was traveling from Nashville, Tennessee, to Austin, Texas, en route to his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She said Cook County, Illinois, was Mayor Daley’s stronghold.

Headlines

Avoid using state abbreviations in headlines whenever possible.

Miscellaneous

Use New York state when necessary to distinguish the state from New York City.

Use state of Washington or Washington state when necessary to distinguish the state from the District of Columbia. (Washington State is the name of a university in the state of Washington.)

The AP Is So Over Using “More Than”

books

The AP Stylebook governs journalists, marketing communications and PR professionals alike and has been known for decades for its rigid stances on the minutiae of grammar, punctuation and spelling. It’s often the final arbiter when it comes to a debate over what to call undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. (“illegal immigrants” was banned from its list of sanctioned terms a year ago) and seemingly contradictory rules governing how to abbreviate geographical names (U.S. vs EU, for example).

More than or over?

associated_press_logo

The Associated Press recently announced that it was overturning a decades-old rule to allow the use of either more than or over when talking about numerical values, such as: “The company recorded more than $3 billion in revenue last quarter.”  The former rule dictated the use of “more than” only.

In theory at least, I’m something of an AP style purist, if there is such a thing, so I side with the legions of journalists and copy editors who are currently a bit disgruntled over what seems to be a loosening of proper standards. After all, “over” originated as a directional term, meaning “higher than.” Under the old rules, “more than” always meant “greater than.”

Does the AP Stylebook evolve?

Nevertheless, the change to the official AP rule is in the usage of more than or over interesting to me because it shows that the AP views its Stylebook as a living organism, one that grows and changes – and one that reflects common grammar usage and word choice actually happening in the real world. As society becomes more colloquial in both the spoken and written word, the rules journalists and communications professionals are expected to adhere to seem to be changing as well.

Why does it even matter what the AP Stylebook deems correct? It doesn’t, in the big scheme of things, because the average person won’t catch the minor error here and there.

But the attention the AP Stylebook pays – and requires its adherents to pay – to the proper way to do things is important in all types of marketing and PR communications. A misused word or misplaced punctuation probably isn’t going to cost a restaurant business, but it could cause a prospective client of business in a professional services industry to wonder about that firm’s attention to detail and professionalism.

In any case, regardless of your industry, you don’t want something as simple as a misplaced comma to leave readers of your ads, website or marketing brochures wondering what you meant. After all, as the old copyediting joke goes, there’s a huge difference between “Let’s eat, Grandma” and “Let’s eat Grandma.” We wouldn’t want your business communications to suffer from a similarly unfortunate misunderstanding.

Nine Steps to Awesome Web Content

how to work with a writer

Wondering how to work with a writer to get copy that you love?

Copy is such an important element of your brand and can help you communicate what’s truly special about your company. Whether you’re building your first website or updating the copy on an existing site, finding the perfect words can be a challenge. As easy as it seems, it can be most difficult to write about yourself or what you’re closest to. Outsourcing this job to an expert can be rewarding but like any project that involves multiple people, there are ways to get the most out of the process. Based on my experience, I’ve jotted down my own recommendations for how to work with a writer to get copy that you love.

1. Hire a professional.

Look for someone with experience, a great portfolio and pleasant demeanor. Your copywriter should be easy to work with; someone who makes you comfortable.

2. Define expectations.

Before moving forward, make sure you both have a clear understanding of the deliverables, the timeline, the number of drafts and revisions, the rate and your preferred method of communication (be it regular meetings, emails, etc.). This will ensure a positive experience for both of you.

3. Do your research.

Before meeting with your copywriter, examine the way competitors and other companies are telling their story. Looking at a wide range of examples with a critical eye will help you narrow down what you like and what you don’t like, as well as provide helpful examples for your writer. Don’t be shy about looking outside of your industry. If you find a website you love, share it with your writer and explain what you like about it to give them a better idea of what you’re shooting for.

4. Jot down some notes.

Prepare yourself with some thoughts before you meet with your writer. What are the key words that really describe your company? What makes your business special? What’s your elevator speech? What words or themes do you want to avoid? How do you want people to see your company?

5. Figure out what’s important.

You only have seconds for a visitor to decide whether they’ll browse the site for a while. Compelling images and attention-grabbing copy are a crucial element on your home page. Work with your writer to figure out what information you would like to focus on. If you only have seconds with the average visitor, you need to make those seconds count.

how to work with a writer time

6. Give your writer some time.

Like anyone else, writers need adequate time to do their work well. While it’s important to establish clear deadlines, make sure that you’re giving the writer enough time to be thoughtful and creative.

7. Make some notes.

Getting the first draft is exciting but it’s probably not going to be perfect. That’s okay. Read through carefully and make notes on what you like and don’t like. Jot down questions. Think about what’s missing or what doesn’t need to be said. Part of the first draft is making sure that all the necessary information is there. Start big picture and narrow it down as you go.

8. Don’t be afraid to give feedback.

Writers aren’t mind readers and they need direct, specific feedback to improve their work. Explain what you like and what you don’t like, citing your notes and using specific examples. As you continue to work together, the writer will refine your copy until it’s exactly what you’ve envisioned.

9. Listen and be open.

Sometimes what seems like a great idea in your head doesn’t work on the page. This isn’t your writer’s first website, and they may have some solutions that can elevate your content beyond what you originally imagined.