How to Write for Big Business

Corporate writing is dull. It’s technical, wordy and details the ins and outs of contracts, deals and complex works. It can also be wildly over optimistic, promising greatness and making use of every grandiose adjective possible to describe a company’s experience and value.

Boredom and over-descriptive nature aside, here’s the thing, some of what I’ve detailed is necessary. A solid grant submission or tender document needs to incorporate technical detail and outline a company’s experience. A case study should describe an organisation’s work and succinctly list how a customer has benefitted. Not exactly riveting for the average reader, but essential for the person who has access to that lucrative contract you desperately want.

Business writing may not reach The Times’ best seller list but there’s no excuse for shabby writing. There is no excuse for poor grammar. And there is no excuse for the corporate culture of capitalising every other word.

Here are Ska Content’s top five tips for creating corporate reports worth reading:

  1. Beware the tricky job title 

Job titles cause considerable confusion. Always refer to your organisation’s style guide. If they don’t have one, make an executive decision and stick to it.

When you are writing about a team of engineers or referring to the company’s chief executive and their experience, capital letters are NOT needed. However, when you are directly referring to a person and their profession, for example the Associate Director Jane Doe, then capitalising is required.

  1. Capital letter overkill 

You Definitely Do Not Need To Splatter Capital Letters All Over Your Report. It is annoying, unnecessary and completely incorrect. Perhaps you are writing about an area of compliance or quality control that is close to your heart, an area you are passionate about and adore. Great. However, please refrain from shoving capital letters mindlessly at the start of each word to emphasise your point.

A capital letter should be used at the start of a sentence, when you use a person’s name (or proper noun), in a title, for acronyms and for very little else. Be careful with your capitals.

  1. Explain your acronyms

Technical or business writing is often dotted with acronyms the average person may not recognise. Many corporate writers however forget the importance of explaining what these actually refer to. If I don’t understand them, neither will John down the pub or Suresh in accounts.

The first time you refer to an acronym that will be used frequently in your report spell it out. Immediately afterwards, in brackets, let your reader know what the acronym will be. DLTG….(don’t leave them guessing)!

For example, in the property development world you may come across the acronym ‘PDR’. Know what it is? Nope, neither do I. Remember to explain.

Example sentence: Numerous office buildings throughout the country have been converted from commercial to residential use under permitted development rights (PDR). We would therefore only be able to purchase this building once PDR has been granted.

  1. Repetition only when required 

Business types love to talk about how great their business is, how exceptional their services are and how much you will love working with them. All wonderful, all necessary. Many business writers however run out of steam midway through a report and go back to singing their organisation’s praises. Again and again.

Sales writing or bid writing is tricky. You need to tell the customer how great you are but if this is the seventh paragraph referring to your ‘dynamic, awe-inspiring, innovative’ product/service. Wind it back. Your clients are intelligent and receptive. They want to like you, don’t force it. A little bit of subtlety goes a very long way. Weave in a case study, mention the experience of one of your leading team members, drop in the value of your most successful contract. Give them facts to back up your claims.

  1. Buzzwords don’t work

David Brent, the king of business buzzwords and office cheese, is not the person we want to emulate. Ever. Avoid phrases that make normal people cringe and make other business people wince.

Some choice phrases to avoid include: high level, granular detail. blue sky vision, thought leadership, core competency, touch base, reach out, lots of moving parts, bleeding edge.

So, before you have a thought shower and punch a puppy, have a read of these articles for more examples:  http://excelle.monster.com/benefits/articles/4543-20-worst-business-buzzwords or http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/06/16/ranked-the-most-scream-inducing-business-jargon-phrases/