By Rebecca Feinstein, Technical Writer
How you communicate is different depending on your relationship with your audience and the goal of your message. What are the common categories of business writing?
In the article ‘Who loves you, baby? (Who is your audience?)’, we discussed technical writing versus business writing. We may wonder, isn’t writing, pretty much the same no matter whatever business those words pertain to?
The answer is ‘no,’ not all types of writing are equal. How are these variations possible you may ask? Well, like other business needs, writing requirements vary depending on what goal is and who the audience is.
Common types of writing
|Technical writing – a style of writing that explains items in detail, such as a company’s:||Policies and proceduresNetwork systems functionalityTraining manuals and other training materials
Technical and functional specifications (computer and computer systems)
Internet and Intranet functions
User guides and other reference materials
|Business writing – pertaining to the everyday writing of a business such as:||ReportsProposalsLetters and correspondence
Any other writing that communicates with audiences both internal and external to the business
|Marketing writing and sometimes Public Relations writing – can be a bit intertwined and are hard to separate. These types of writing are used to promote the business’ products or services (marketing) or business identity / events / products (public relations)||Ads (television, internet and print [marketing])Brochures (marketing)Announcements (public relations)
Trade magazine articles and press releases (public relations)
Promotional events (public relations)
|SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) writing – is the use of descriptive keywords that search engines find to direct Internet traffic to your website||Website specific writing, doesn’t usually apply to print, broadcast or non-internet mediaAnalysis shows which words and phrases consumers commonly useCommon words and phrases are embedded in the web address, titles, body and code in the website|
|Journalism – is writing that concerns the research or interviews, examination and reporting of events, issues and trends to the public||Days and time play a key role in which topics are coveredMedia publications have themes and subscribers (audience) that shape the attitude, tone, level of sophistication and topics of the story|
So now, you’re confused!?
How do you figure out what type of writing needs to be done?
A good way to start is to create a list of topics, products, services or issues that are important to your business. You’ll notice the most of the topics will tie-in together and your next step is to group these topics. After you have grouped the topics organize the groups by importance or sequence.
When you have the list done, match the writing projects to what the types of writing listed above. Then, hire a writer with the corresponding experience to handle the writing tasks for your business. Many writers can handle multiple types of writing and you may find this type of writer instead specialises in your industry.
An example would be the XYZ Company from our earlier ‘Who Loves You Baby?’ article. The company has decided to create a new website, featuring a blog. Their writing projects would include the following:
- A written business plan describing the way the site will look.
- A breakdown of what parts of each page would be static or unchangeable (headers, footers, etc.) to the site and what pages would be changeable.
- Which topics will be covered, the author and the staff member or Subject Matter Expert (SME) for that article
- A feasibility study of whether or not it would be better to setup and maintain the site internally or have an outside vendor build and maintain the site for your company
- Specifications for the site
- A users guide for those who upload information to the site
- An administration guide (for the internal person responsible for maintaining the site)
- A reference guide for the blogger(s) regarding site features, including the policies and procedures for writing the topics for the blog
- Online help for the site in case of trouble
Marketing and Public Relations writing
- Announcements to competitors, customers and employees of the new site
- Ads created for local and international (if needed) outlets
- Press releases written and sent to local papers and media outlets
- Articles written for industry online magazines
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) writing
- Identifying words and phrases (typically restricted to 12 or fewer popular words) for each web page within the website
- Working with the web development team to create web addresses (also called URLs, directories or paths) that contain the matching keywords
- Verifying that the formatting of titles and menus match the keywords being targeted on each page
- Embedding keywords into the code sitting behind each web page
All types of writing are geared at providing information and communication about the business’s products and services. If done well, writing provides clear understanding and a road map for all employees as well as information and communication to your customers and competitors.
Whether you use internal staff or outside writers, plan your writing projects around the type of writing that addresses your relationship with your audience and the goal of your message.
Edited by Shauna McGee Kinney, Technology Writer
|Rebecca Feinstein is a technical writer. Rebecca and Shauna worked together while members of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) Los Angeles Chapter during 2000 to 2003. Rebecca is actively involved as the 2012 Secretary of the Orange County chapter of STC. She works as a contract editor and writer for public utility companies, medical and insurance companies in Los Angeles and Orange County, California.
Her skills include documenting business procedures and proprietary business software. She works with PerthWrite editing copy for business and engineering companies in Alaska, California and Perth. Rebecca has a practical sense of writing. She respectfully preserves and streamlines the words her clients use. More information is available about Rebecca’s services at http://feinwriting.com/