Business owners sometimes spend so much time finding ways to increase their profit that they forget that it is not the only aspect ensuring a successful business. Often when reading through advertisements or brochures of SME’s and even large, well-known companies one finds the quality of writing notably lacking.
Companies spend lots of money and other resources on marketing and branding, but not enough is done to ensure that promotion activities are not undermined by the inability to communicate effectively. With a little bit of effort a business owner can change this.
Teach all employees to activate and use spell checkers on their computers. Ensure that ‘English South Africa’ is chosen as the default spell checker for everyday use. Use ‘English U.K.’ or ‘English U.S.’ for documents sent to the U.K. and U.S.A. respectively or the language choice for any other languages used.
Apart from encouraging employees to avoid sending and receiving personal e-mail at work, introduce the following guidelines for efficient and professional communication via the Internet:
· Include a signature below every outgoing e-mail, consisting of the staff member’s name, contact details (telephone, cell phone and fax numbers, e-mail, web page and Skype addresses) and the company logo and slogan.
· When employees are on leave or away on business and can’t access their e-mail, activate the ‘out of office’-reply.
· Write in full, well-structured sentences.
· Spell check all messages before sending.
· Use a professional, formal writing style for all external communication.
· Use the ‘Bcc’ function in the address box to keep clients’ e-mail addresses confidential and secure from companies or individuals who steal and sell address lists and also to prevent unwanted incoming e-mail to clutter the company server.
· Use the ‘read (or received) receipt’ function to keep saved records of sent e-mails.
Apart from being updated regularly, all content for uploading on the company’s website must be checked for spelling errors, statements and advertising that can cause legal action against the owner. Make sure that quotes are the original words of the person quoted and that all other information given is factual. Check the accuracy of the contact details every time when the website is uploaded. Test every button and every link on the page before uploading.
Use full sentences and proper spelling in all SMS communication.
Terminology and Names
Compile a list of distinctive terminology used in the company or sector of business, standardise it and make it available to all employees. Include clients’ and companies’ names and abbreviations of companies and organisations and update the list when needed.
Spend money on presentation designing courses for employees who need to make use of presentations regularly. Encourage users to spell check all presentations.
Start a Company Newsletter
Promote the esprit de corps in the company by sending out a monthly newsletter, encouraging employees to contribute. The newsletter can be used to:
· Convey company policy;
· Communicate new developments and research in the field of business;
· Publish company news and successes;
· Run competitions between departments or individuals and challenge employees’ Creativity regarding problem solving; and
· Announce the implementation of new work procedures.
The company newsletter will also improve contributing employees’ writing skills and give the staff some pride. Set apart a section for not work related issues such as book and movie reviews, announcements, advertisements etc.
Encourage Employees to Read
Employees can improve their skills by reading books and articles on work related subjects. Reading will also develop their writing skills and ability to spell accurately, which will have a positive reflection on the company.
Proof-reading and Editing
Improve the company’s image by investing in professional writing, editing, translation and proof-reading services to ensure immaculate external communication. When the company can afford it, an in-house department can be dedicated for this purpose, which will save money on the long run.
Crash Courses for New Staff
Initiate new personal with a one-day workshop by introducing them to the company’s writing style, rules and regulations.
The rules of language change as writing inventions and technological developments change worldwide, introducing new words in English and other languages on a regular basis. Workshops to update employees on language terminology and tips regarding writing skills can be conveyed via e-mails and/or the monthly newsletter.
With today’s advanced technology it is easy to install dictionaries, thesauruses, currency converters and other helpful aids on every computer desktop. This will aid staff in checking spelling, the meaning for difficult words, currency abbreviations etc.
With a bit of company effort, training and the technology available, no person on any step of the proverbial corporate ladder has any excuses anymore for not writing properly.
© 2007 Riëtte De Kock
I am trying hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellent wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful entrepreneur and freelance writer all at the same time! I share a living space in Pretoria, South Africa with my husband, son, mother, four dogs and sometimes the neighbours’ cats – and my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters.
Visit my website at www.thewritingclub.co.za and buy my children’s ebook, Yeovangya, on Amazon Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Yeovangya-ebook/dp/B008CP2RQ0
My Afrikaans blog is available on my website – or just click on this link: http://www.thewritingclub.co.za/writingclub/index.php?option=com_lyftenbloggie&view=lyftenbloggie&category=bloggies&Itemid=66
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