I spend a lot of time in this blog forum talking about social media and how to integrate this new tactic into a business strategy.
I’m not alone … there are lots of folks out there exchanging ideas as we all try to get our arms around this ever-changing medium. But at the heart of it all, one thing is constant: The ability to concisely, clearly and accurately communicate through the written word. For me, this is a very fortuitous thing. Writing has saved me, carried me, lifted me, buried me, and ultimately, made me the professional I am today.
I was never a child who wondered, “What will I be when I grow up?” From the time I could hold a pencil, I wanted to write stories. My parents gave me a Dr. Seuss dictionary (in both French and English, by the way … perhaps they thought I was destined to write by the Seine.) Then I met Frank Salzarulo, an old-time reporter at the (now defunct) Indianapolis News when I was 8, and my life’s path became very clear: I would be a reporter.
And so I was … and an editor and a publisher. And then, with the world of my beloved publications looking so bleak, I decided to take my writing skills to the ‘public relations’ side of the street. I quickly found that there was a lot more to public relations than good sense and the ability to write. When done correctly and within the boundaries of the Code of Ethics put forth by the Public Relations Society of America, it is a calculated plan that begins with research that results in concrete, measurable objectives accomplished through appropriate tactics that bear measured evaluation for success. And “measurable evaluation” is no longer the output of “media hits,” but outcomes that “move the needle” per the set objectives.
But still, at the heart of it all is writing.
I’m often asked by burgeoning writers what they should do to hone their skill. I have two standard answers:
Preferably, read well-written pieces. I find the writing in the New York Times inspirational and total prose. I also find listening to NPR is a great source of ideas; it opens my mind to a certain thoughts and phrases that strike a chord. And write – write as much as possible and as well as possible. Do not be lazy in your writing. Pay attention to punctuation because that sixth grade English teacher wasn’t crazy … it really DOES matter.
What brought all this on? Yesterday, one of my associates had a meeting with a prospective client who is a mutual acquaintance. When she told him she was doing some work with me, he said, “She’s a good writer. She should write some stuff for us!” And it made me think, that’s exactly what I’ve worked for since that epiphany when I was eight years old. And I truly believe it is the reason that within the very short course of eight weeks I have attained a good cadre of clients who are familiar with my skills and know that I will deliver on my promises.
But it all began with writing.
Thank you, Dr. Seuss. And Mr. Salzarulo. And mom and dad. So far, so good!