Enhancing Writing to Impact Change
In a world characterised by rapid change and information overload, people will only devote a certain amount of energy into understanding a message. If it’s too simple: so what? If it’s too complex or convoluted, the reader will quickly lose interest. The golden ticket of writing is usually the ability to make a connection that resonates personally with the reader, which in turn generates interest and understanding in the message being conveyed.
AP Advance, Writing for Communications program, helps professionals working in APAC communication functions to develop their technical writing skills and strategic content planning abilities. Working recently with an Asia-headquartered business within the automotive sector, AP Advance was tasked with developing its 20 strong communications team across:
- Assessing the writing ability of the team and setting strategies for further strengthening these skills.
- Understanding how writing styles can be adapted for online platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Writing with impact for traditional corporate communications.
The AP Advance program addressed these objectives in four crucial ways:
1. Better understanding the link between written communications and achieving business results by increasing awareness of how powerful communications can change behaviour. To create written materials that are impactful, communicators need to first understand the audience they are trying to engage. What is of concern to them? What are their priorities? One way to think about this is through a unique selling point. One problem often occurs when communicators are told what message to write, rather than taking the time to truly understand who they are writing for and how to craft a message that is going to resonate with that audience. If the words are not meaningful to the reader, if the writing does not make a connection with the reader’s personal experiences, then the power of the message will be lost. What does your audience do after they’ve seen the message? Do they tell a colleague about it, or (if appropriate) share it on social media? Will it change the way they approach their work, their views on the company and/or CEO? Writing that achieves results captures the hearts and minds of each individual reader.
2. Leveraging an approach to structure your communications to enhance impact. We provide communicators a proven approach to uncover the most impactful message by systematically examining the problem, identifying the key singular point of the message, and communicating it with clarity and conviction to inspire and drive action:
1. First, establish the facts that are most relevant and important
2. Identify the most significant problem that stakeholders will be most interested in hearing
3. Write the key message that addresses the problem, ensuring it is unique
4. Communicate the one key message and remove all other points that confuse stakeholders
5. Finalise with the call to action that clearly states what stakeholders need to do.
3. Improving writing capability across platforms: communicators are required to engage with the organisation’s stakeholders across multiple channels, each of which have their own styles in the context of language. The rapid and ongoing rise of AI also means the challenges and opportunities of writing for different platforms is more heightened than ever.
For all communication teams in 2023 it’s vital to break down best-in-class techniques specific to the platform in question. Considerations should include how to write in a way that is persuasive for the particular channel, what tone is appropriate and how to write in a way that is authentic rather than corporate in nature. A common recent challenge for many corporates is sustainability communications, with one area of our training focused on helping participants to focus on the nuance of their Sustainability messaging, breaking this down to form a technical/legal strain (e.g., for the corporate website) and another for broader appeal (on digital platforms like LinkedIn).
4. Unravelling the techniques of storytelling. Storytelling is one of those communication methods that has often been surrounded by an air of suspicion. The phrase can be overused, and senior leaders are sometimes sceptical of its value. But research tells us is that imagery and anecdotes can be the perfect mechanisms for aligning stakeholders with the company strategy.
How to get these techniques right? One of the most well-known CEO storytellers is Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO. Shultz was very adept at infusing his personal journey from very humble beginnings with the values of Starbucks and the type of company he wanted the coffee franchise to be. This style can be very effective but needs to be approached with due care. Contrived or manufactured stories will generate cynicism, mistrust and even ridicule. Finding the right balance between telling a story that enhances the message without muddling it is the challenge. Amid a highly uncertain macro environment, the ability to connect with employees and other stakeholders in a way that galvanizes support will mean great storytelling remains in high demand. Corporate communicators in the APAC region will need to continue to develop their capabilities to meet this demand.
About AP Advance
As corporate affairs and ESG & Sustainability continues to develop and mature in APAC “skillset growing pains” are inevitable – when the region’s available talent pool gets stretched by the expanding demands being placed on it, and it strains to meet the competencies required. But that also makes this a thrilling moment: The demand is there for a step change in ability, for organisations who are willing to pursue it.
With our commitment at Andrews Partnership to raising industry standards in the region, we’re proud to offer such dedicated training programs for our clients. These can be delivered in-house or off-site, to entire teams or one-to-one, as regular programmes of ongoing development or as one-off skills boosts. Our professional trainers have decades of experience coaching communications departments all around the world.
Andrews Partnership are the reputation experts, with offices in Hong Kong and Singapore working across Asia, as the leading specialist corporate affairs, communications and investor relations executive search firm. We excel at understanding each organisation's unique challenges and appointing the right talent, who make meaningful business impact.