Every company needs a communications expert

Carolyn F Sampson Writer
Carolyn F Sampson

In this age of information overload, the English language has grown to include more than 1 million words. At the same time, our high-pressure schedules leave little time for crafting polished, professional business communications. Even daily newspaper articles, written and proofread by trained journalists and copyeditors, are rarely error-free. With our journalistic standards quickly eroding, it’s tempting to believe that well-researched and well-written copy is no longer important. Why not just grind something out and move on to the next project?

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Making you look good with exceptional writing

Magazine Editor Sample Carolyn F Sampson, Editor
Minnesota Co-op Power magazine, managing editor Carolyn F Sampson. Cover photo by Carolyn F Sampson

In 1998, I was lucky enough to be promoted from the customer service department to a position as Communications Specialist by my employer of about three years. With nearly 20 years in customer service already under my belt, it was a mid-career change as well as my dream job. The company took a chance on me, since I was still working on my Bachelors degree. Fortunately my predecessor had allowed me to help with writing and editing, which gave me a chance to show my skills before the position unexpectedly opened.

For a couple of years prior, I had taken the advice of a mentor in the field: take desktop publishing and writing classes before your other requirements so you’ll be ready if an opportunity arises. So there I was, with a small portfolio of desktop publishing samples from class and a volunteer gig as a newsletter editor plus a couple of dozen articles written for the local weekly newspaper. I felt qualified to do the job but not confident I could convince anyone to hire me without a degree.

Jumping into the job with no formal experience was a challenge and there were moments when I wondered if I had gotten in over my head. One of my duties was to edit the CEO’s monthly column for our business-to-customer (B2C) newsletter.

“Your job is to make me look good,” the CEO said. Continue reading “Making you look good with exceptional writing”

StarTribune Newspaper April 13 2016

Effective copywriting: Readability matters

I was surprised to learn today that, according to National Assessment of Adult Literacy surveys, the average American adult reads at a 9th-grade level, prefers to read two grades below that, and will tolerate two levels above. Interestingly, most popular novels are written at a 7th-grade level while most newspapers are written at an 11th-grade level. Maybe if newspapers reduced their reading level by four grades, the general public would be more informed about critical issues.

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Even Stephen King needs a good editor

On-Writing-Stephen-KingWriting and editing are two very different skills. While I’ve written countless feature and news articles over the years, rich descriptive language doesn’t come easily to me. My real strength and passion is for editing other writers’ work. In fact, many of the most imaginative writers seem to have little or no regard for grammar, sentence structure or other language technicalities.

Even a prolific creative writer like Stephen King needs a good editor. In his classic “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, King spends a fair amount of time promoting the importance of grammar and the brilliance of William Strunk’s classic writing guide “The Elements of Style”. He then goes on to describe his writing process: a first draft followed by one or more passes to reorganize and refine his original thoughts. Even so, as he describes it, his trusted editor still has a lot of work to do, massaging and shaping the story into its final printed form. Continue reading “Even Stephen King needs a good editor”

Six tips for designing your small business logo

Networking with others in your industry and related industries is the most important thing you can do to get your small business off the ground quickly. But before you start networking, you will need a professionally designed logo, an attractive business card and a polished, interactive website.

While you might never be recognized worldwide by just a symbol, like Apple® or Coca Cola®, your logo will be very important in communicating your professionalism and attracting repeat customers. As with your business name, it’s often best to keep your logo as simple as possible. A complicated logo design will have hidden costs in the future; for example more expensive building and office signs.

Today I’ll talk about some important considerations in creating a strong small business logo. Continue reading “Six tips for designing your small business logo”

How to brand a small business

Once you’ve chosen a business name and designed your logo, it’s time to begin branding your organization. The most obvious element of branding is consistent use of your business name, logo and tagline, but branding is about communicating much more than just the products and services your business offers. Branding can also communicate:

  • Your company’s culture, mission and values
  • Your targeted customer demographic or product niche

Continue reading “How to brand a small business”

How solid is your small business marketing strategy?

dollar-726877_640As you close the books on the past year and envision generating record gross revenue and profit for your small business in the coming year, do you have a solid marketing plan for meeting those lofty goals? The pressure is often on your sales team to close more deals, but have you provided them with a solid branding and marketing strategy to generate leads? Do they have sales tools and exceptional customer service to reinforce their sales efforts? Continue reading “How solid is your small business marketing strategy?”