How business writing is like writing for digital audiences

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The hallway where the twice a year networking happens!

Twice a year the University of Iowa Journalism School, where I graduated in 2001, holds a speed networking event between students and professionals.

They’ve done that like 17 times and Paul Jensen, former Gazette photo editor, is the mastermind behind it. I try to attend when I’m not traveling and enjoy it immensely to hear what students have to say.

One discussion was especially enlightening in 2018. A student mentioned something about the importance of business writing.

Tell me more.

I was expecting a response that discusses how business communication is formal and along those lines.

I was pleasantly surprised.

The student continued that business writing must be:

  • Easily digestible
  • Sub headlines
  • Short paragraphs
  • Sometimes use bulleted lists over run-on sentences

Oh, yes. Thank you. Following those methods – which are also best web writing practices – makes content consumption easier.

Read now: How to write timeless content for the web

At the very least on digital. And if you send an email “memo” or a note on Basecamp, don’t expect people to print it. I know I don’t.

But what I loved about the discussion was that it wasn’t about a channel! It was about business communication.

And let’s be honest here. A lot of business communication is terribly written. There are subtle messages that aren’t explained. Run-on paragraphs are a disease!

So yes, business communication is about actually communicating. That’s also the goal of those digital writing techniques.

We know that these techniques make consumption easier:

  • Headlines
    Bullet lists
    Short paragraphs

Read next: Some web content is just too long!

Personally, short paragraphs come relatively naturally to me – maybe because I grew up in journalism. And that’s even a thing in print journalism.

One time, an editor told me though that one-sentence paragraphs really shouldn’t be a thing. “I understand the intent, Christoph.”

Business communication is hard enough as it is with conflicting agendas, internal politics that eat up our days, and our audiences not understanding the intended message – for one reason or another.

Using digital marketing and web writing strategies can help us be clearer and get to understanding quicker!

Read on LinkedIn: How taking screen shots is now a journalism skill!