August 4, 2015

“Information is absorbed in direct proportion to its vividness.”
— Diane West and Jennifer Dreyer, principals, Tamayo Consulting Inc.

Color bind

Yes, Communicator, you can make your copy more colorful

How can scanning old news headlines, getting a quick education from Wikipedia or asking your BFF and research assistant Google a question or two save a boring story?

By helping you add concrete detail to your message in 30 minutes or less.

One of my favorite editing assignments is to turn dry, abstract message into colorful copy — without going back to the subject matter expert for an interview.

Here are some simple approaches you can use to find juicy details that transform your story from “meh” to masterpiece, along with examples from a recent editing project. This research took from 30 minutes to ZERO minutes of research — a time frame that should fit into even the busiest communicator’s schedule.

Color bind

Color my world Forget shades of gray. Show your readers — don’t just tell them — in living color. Photo by Viewminder

1. From X to Y

One of my favorite techniques is the “From X to Y” approach. Add alliteration, rhyme or A-to-Z examples, and suddenly, you have a colorful passage on your hands.

For this piece, Google and I researched RATP, the Parisian metro system, and found its tagline. (I find Wikipedia super-helpful for these institutional stories.) Google and I also looked into routes for the “From X to Y” examples.

Research time: 15 minutes.

BeforeAfter
With a large resident population and a huge annual influx of tourists, Paris and its surrounding area needs a transport company that is up to the job. Completing more than 3 billion customer journeys in 2010, RATP is that company, running metro trains, buses, tramways and mass rapid transit for the city.

To support 1,000 trains, 300 stations and 4,500 buses, RATP has a large team of engineering and maintenance personnel, as well as its own 1,000-strong security department. Add in drivers, ticketing and station staff and that’s a lot of people who need constant, reliable communications to ensure the transport network runs smoothly.

RATP employees rely on a fully integrated XYZ network from ABC, using talk groups that let staff from all areas of the system communicate when needed, both for routine jobs and in an emergency. This is all a far cry from the time when RATP struggled with seven or eight analogue systems that couldn’t connect to each other, meaning that people on the buses couldn’t talk to the people on the Metro.

Currently, 9,000 users benefit from the XYZ network, a number that is soon to rise up to 15,000, with the addition of the bus fleet.

Aimer la ville, says the Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens’ (RATP) tagline. And from the Seine to the Sorbonne, from the Notre Dame to the Musée d’Orsay, from the Tuileries to the Île de la Cité, RATP helps people in and around Paris love the city, indeed.

In fact, more than 3 billion people each year ride the Paris metro, tram, bus and regional express trains through Paris and the Île-de-France. That makes the RATP the densest and largest metropolitan transportation system in the world.

To keep Parisians and visitors flowing seamlessly, the RATP must keep its communications flowing seamlessly, as well. To that end, RATP relies on a fully integrated XYZ network from ABC to connect 9,000 users on:

  • 1,000 trains
  • 4,500 buses
  • 300 stations

Now RATP is offering its XYZ network services to other organisations, as well.

2. Juicy details

In this story — a case study of how my client helped French firefighters — the client led with the background. But it’s better to lead with a juicy detail that illustrates the problem the organization helped its client solve.

I found all of the information about the French firefighters online, with a little help from Google Translation.

Research time: 30 minutes.

BeforeAfter
The automatic vehicle location (AVL) application for XYZ is becoming more flexible. Advanced new capabilities are already enabling French fire brigades to pull off the frequently difficult task of saving costs and improving operations at the same time.

The latest release of ABC’s AVL application for XYZ helps user organisations to customize the system to make use of the positioning equipment that suits them best — in terms of both cost and operation. There are three major developments that enable the improvements.

The French fire and emergency service have at least one job its brethren in other countries don’t: Service Départemental d’Incendie et de Secours responders are often called on to rescue water sports enthusiasts who get into trouble in the deep gorges of the Verdon, Tarn and Ardèche rivers.

In those cavernous canyons — the Verdon alone has cut a ravine up to 700 metres deep through the limestone mass — SDIS’s existing radio network struggles to provide coverage.

But new XYZ cell technology from ABC has proven in trials to improve network coverage even in the deep recesses of the Ardèche region during rescue operations. Those successes bode well for French firemen in Tarn and the Alpes de Haute Provence, as well.

3. Interesting observation

Humiliatingly, I had to ask Google what Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev were up to before I was able to make this interesting observation! Google also helped me find details about Czech emergency services.

Research time: 15 minutes.

BeforeAfter
When US President Barack Obama met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague in April, short notice of the event meant that the Czech authorities had to come up with an effective security plan quickly. Luckily, the Czech Police could build on previous experience of securing meetings of the IMF and NATO, explains Tomáš Hrubý.

The 2010 security operation brought together police patrol teams from both the central and regional police organisations, as well as reinforcements from the traffic police and Special Forces units, among others. The President of Police made it a priority to get everyone working together effectively by establishing radio links using XYZ-based XX radio equipment, in particular for group-level communication.

The police force’s Division of Communications and Technical Support IT was responsible for promoting smooth co-operation by providing support in four key areas:

When two heads of state met in Prague in April 2010, they concerned themselves with world security: U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new treaty on nuclear arms reduction.

While the world leaders signed START 2, others concerned themselves with securing the safety of the leaders themselves.

[How short?] Short notice of the meeting meant that Czech authorities had to come up with an effective security plan [how?] quickly. Luckily, the Czech Police were able to build on their experience securing meetings of the International Monetary Fund in 2000 and NATO 2002.

Plus, they had the support of XX, the Czech Republic’s XYZ network for public safety and security agencies.

4. Anecdotal lead

One moment in time is more compelling than “in 1997.” Google found this anecdote for me.

Research time: 15 minutes.

BeforeAfter
In 1997, the Helsinki Energy Company in Finland switched on the world’s first XYZ network. In 2007, the network is used daily by Helsinki Energy personnel, as well as other commercial organisations.

As the first of its kind, XX was naturally the result of a learning curve. Co-operation between Helsinki Energy and the network provider was very close, and the client was actually responsible for suggesting various tailored features that have later been offered as options to other users. Ten years on, the network is still going strong, having operated reliably since it was launched.

As a network operator, Helsinki Energy provides commercial communication services to other organisations, as well as being a user itself. XX offers complete coverage throughout Helsinki Energy’s network area, which surrounds the Finnish capital. This is even true in very challenging places such as the underground network, which extends up to 60 metres below ground. Even here, users do not have to resort to direct mode operation (DMO) between terminals.

It wasn’t the first time they’d spoken. But when Helsinki Energy’s Ilkka Pirvola called ABC’S Tapio Heikkilä on Sept. 2, 1997, it was a moment to remember.

That conversation marked the first call on the world’s first commercial XYZ network, XX.

Operated by Helsinki Energy, one of the largest energy companies in Finland, XX serves 1,400 users, including:

  • Helsinki Energy personnel
  • Helsinki City Transport staff members
  • Local security guards, mostly at shopping malls, train and metro stations and trams
  • Commercial clients

XX: All around and underground

XX covers Helsinki Energy’s network area, which surrounds the Finnish capital. That includes Helsinki’s underground network, which extends up to 60 metres below ground.

5. Scenario lead

For a scenario lead, you simply walk readers through the situation you’re writing about. Make the subject of the scenario “you” to avoid ridiculous “Polly Picture Taker” approaches. Add color with concrete details — Aunt Mary, Cousin Tiina, selfies, for instance.

Research time: 0 minutes.

BeforeAfter
Commercial mobile data services enable us to post things on the Internet with a few clicks, send messages or check what’s happening on the other side of the world. We can keep friends updated about our status and share photos instantly so that our chosen Internet communities can enjoy our discoveries.

You might remember — and then again, you might not — the days of analog photos. You’d take your film to the processor, pick up the prints, then send the pictures to Aunt Mary and Cousin Tiina by mail.

Oh, how the world has changed.

Now you can email or text selfies and other digital photos instantly to your friends and family or post them to your social media accounts in less time than it took you to shoot them in the first place.

But … I don’t have time!

The biggest obstacle the folks in my writing classes have to writing more colorful copy is time. They simply don’t have enough, they tell me, even to spend a few minutes searching for colorful details.

Time is my biggest obstacle too: I get paid by the word, not by the hour, so the minutes I invest in getting these concrete details pay off only in the quality of the copy, not in my income.

So, is it worth it to spend the time it takes — from zero minutes to 30 — to dig up juicy details?

Only if you’re writing to be read.

Make Your Copy More Colorful

Would you like to learn to add color to even the most complex or technical stories? Become a wizard of wordplay? A master of metaphor?

If so, please join me at Master the Art of the Storyteller, a two-day creative writing master class on July 29-30 in San Francisco.

In this class, you’ll learn how to write copy that grabs attention, keeps it longer, communicates more clearly, enhances credibility and is more likely to go viral. You’ll walk away with techniques — not just what to do, but how — for painting pictures in your audience members’ minds so they understand your points faster, enjoy your information more and remember it longer.There, you’ll learn how to bring your messages to life with storytelling, wordplay and metaphor.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Grab Attention With Feature Stories: Craft creative leads and kickers
  • Make Your Copy More Colorful: Engage readers with fun facts, juicy details
  • Play With Your Words: Spice up your headlines, leads and sound bites with wordplay
  • Master the Art of the Storyteller: Tap ‘the most powerful form of human communication’
  • Add Meaning With Metaphor: Clarify complex concepts with analogy
  • Edit, write, repeat: Bring your laptop and a story to work on, write and rewrite, get and give feedback, and leave with a totally rewritten piece

Register for Master the Art of Storytelling Workshop in San Francisco.

Learn more about the Master Class.

Browse all 2015 Master Classes.

Would you like to hold an in-house Make Your Copy More Creative workshop? Contact Ann directly.

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“I write almost every day as part of my job. With the knowledge I gained during these two days I am going back to work a much more effective writer and communicator.”
— Christy Moch, change navigation implementation leader, Allstate

Make Your Copy More Creative

Learn to grab attention and leave a lasting impression

Would you like to engage readers with feature-style stories? Spice up headlines, leads and soundbites with wordplay? Tap “the most powerful form of human communication”?

If so, please join me at Master the Art of the Storyteller, a two-day creative-writing Master Class on July 29-30 in San Francisco.

Make your copy more creative in San Francisco

Time for a recharge? Creative messages paint pictures in your readers’ minds so they understand your points faster, enjoy them more and remember them longer.

Fill your toolbox with tricks.

In two days, you’ll have time to cram your writer’s tool bag with tricks — hard-to-find but easy-to-implement techniques that will help you:

  • Grab Attention With Feature Stories: Craft creative leads and kickers
  • Make Your Copy More Colorful: Engage readers with fun facts, juicy details
  • Play With Your Words: Spice up your headlines, leads and sound bites with wordplay
  • Master the Art of the Storyteller: Tap ‘the most powerful form of human communication’
  • Add Meaning With Metaphor: Clarify complex concepts with analogies
  • Take Your Story From ‘Meh’ to Masterpiece: Bring your laptop and a story to work on, and leave with a totally rewritten piece.

If you’re a good writer, this Master Class will equip you with a bigger, better bag of writing tricks. If you’re struggling, the program can give you the tools you need to get up to speed almost immediately.

Wherever you are in your writing journey, in this workshop, you will:

  • Learn the latest, proven-in-the-lab approaches for getting readers to pay attention to your message, understand it, remember it and act on it.
  • Find out how to ditch outdated writing practices that actually annoy, rather than attract, readers.
  • Get the information you need to have a successful conversation with management about what works in writing and why.
  • Leave with fresh techniques based on relevant research that you can use to reach and sway your audiences.

Learn more.

Register for Storytelling workshop in San Francisco.

Meet me in San Francisco.

Look! There’s the apartment on San Francisco’s Montgomery Street where Alan Ginsberg wrote “Howl.” Here’s the site of the old Black Cat Bar that John Steinbeck frequented. And that spot right there — in the middle of the Bay — that’s the one Maya Angelou wrote about in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

You might think of San Francisco as home to tech gadgets and gear. But it’s always been a city of letters, as well.

Here, writers ranging from Alice Walker to Amy Tan and from Jane Smiley to Charles Schulz have plied their pens. You’ll find literary festivals, maps, museums, walking tours — and our summer writing workshop — in San Francisco.

Bright lights big city

Bright Lights, Big City Come for our Catch Your Reader writing workshop; stay for a weekend in San Francisco. Photo by Steve Rhodes

Why not make a long weekend of it?

I, for one, will be winding down from the workshop by scouring the shelves at City Lights Bookstore, picking out the perfect pearls in Chinatown, barking back at the sea lions on Pier 39, sighing over the bucatini at SPQR and taking in the Turner Show at the de Young Museum.

Maybe we’ll run into each other!

Learn more.

Register for Storytelling workshop in San Francisco.

Save money, earn bonuses.

I have no doubt that the Master Class will be the best money you invest this year on your professional development. Plus, now you can save money and earn bonuses when you bring a friend or belong to RevUpReadership.com or PRSA.

Interested? Contact me directly, learn more or register now.

At the workshop, you’ll find out why Jim Masters, internal communications specialist at Accenture, said of my Master Class: “I have been a journalist for 30 years, published more than 10,000 times, and I have learned more about writing in the past two days from Ann than I have in all that time.”

I look forward to seeing you there!

Best,

Ann

P.S. Remember: You can save $50 to $100 per registration with our group discounts. Just bring a friend or two. Register now.

Learn more.

Register for Storytelling workshop in San Francisco.


Browse all 2015 Master Classes.

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“Words have to be crafted, not sprayed.”
— Norman Cousins, the late editor in chief of the Saturday Review

How is editing like closet tidying?

Audition your words to go in, not out

When Lynn Wylie, aka Best Sister Ever, sent me an Unfancy blog post arguing that all you need to look great every day is a capsule wardrobe of 37 items per season, I scoffed.

How is editing like closet tidying?

Come out of the closet When cutting clutter from copy, as well as from closets, change your focus from what goes out to what stays in. Image by Rubbermaid Products

After all, Dear Reader, Aunt Ann is a maximalist. I love Jessica Harper’s quote in Pennies From Heaven: “It’s not the money; it’s the stuff!” My jewelry box is seven stories high. When someone asked my husband about my hobbies, he replied, “Ann’s sport is dressing for dinner.”

Focus on what goes in, not what goes out.

However, Dear Reader, Aunt Ann is also OCD. I love a place for everything and everything in its place. So when I read how Unfancy suggests you get to 37 garments a season, I was intrigued:

  1. Empty your closet.
  2. Review each item in your wardrobe.
  3. Return to your closet only the garments you absolutely love.

In decades of closet-cleaning-as-entertainment, this is by far the best approach I’ve found. I now have all of the clothes I want to wear, and none of the ones I don’t. Plus, my closet is now uncluttered and gorgeous. Shelves once stuffed with T-shirts and yoga pants now display glittering evening bags and bracelets.

Spring-clean your copy.

So I wondered: Can we adapt this approach to cutting clutter from our copy? Then I remembered: We already have!

This is the approach editing genius George Stenitzer recommends in “An Act of Commission.” When editing, George uses a highlighter to identify what stays in the message instead of a red pen to identify what goes out.

It seems like a simple shift, but it works. So give it a go. If your message winds up as clean and dazzling as my closet, your readers will love you for it.

Next steps: Cut Through the Clutter

Want to make every piece you write easier to read and understand?

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With inverted pyramids, “the story gets more boring as the reader reads down.”
— “Ways with Words,” a study by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and The Poynter Institute

Shatter the pyramid

Another communicator takes on the feature

Too many communicators married the inverted pyramid when they were 19, have made a lot of triangular babies and have remained monogamous for all these years. Problem is, the traditional news structure doesn’t work well with humans.

Shatter the pyramid

If only all pyramids were this colorful Add color to your copy with a feature instead of a news structure. Image by *Psycho Delia*

But Janelle Davis, for one, has started to flirt around with other structures. During my Catch Your Readers Master Class in April, the public relations strategist for the American Academy of Family Physicians rewrote a traditional news story into a feature. Here’s how she made over her piece:

AAFP makes over a traditional news story
ElementApproachBefore: NewsAfter: Feature
Introduction
LeadShow instead of tell for a feature lead.

Grab reader attention with a lead that’s concrete, creative and provocative.

Use a scenario or another approach you can steal from fiction writers.

The American Academy of Family Physicians is calling on food producers and the medical community to fight antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”You’ve been there. It’s the day before an important meeting, and you feel a sore throat coming on. You get home that evening and it’s worse. Your head throbs like a bad ’80s bass line. Your eyes are fire engine red. You’d give just about anything to breathe through your nose. You call your doctor and beg for a pill — ANY pill — to make you feel better.
Background sectionGive reader context before diving into the meat of the story. In this case, Janelle explained why this story is important now, in a sentence or two.

Don’t lead with the background. We also call background the blah-blah-blah. So avoid the mistake too many people make of placing the background in the lead.

Antibiotics have saved the lives of countless people around the world, but their overuse and misuse has led to the emergence of drug resistant bacteria. The consequences are dire. Every year, antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect more than 2 million people nationwide and kill at least 23,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.In many cases, that pill is an antibiotic. But unless your illness is caused by bacteria, an antibiotic won’t help — and it may even hurt. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2 million people in the United States are infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and more than 23,000 die as a result.
Nut graphAfter getting readers’ attention with a shiny object in the lead, tell them where you’re taking them in the nut graph.

Summarize your key message in a sentence or two.

Let readers know what’s in it for them.

You as a patient can help slow the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria by not requesting antibiotics for viral illnesses, such as cold and flu.
Body
BodyHere’s where you tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em. The brisker, the better.

I love some of the colorful language here, like “the worst case of food poisoning you can imagine.”

I might have added two subheads to the rewrite: Why avoid antibiotics and How to avoid antibiotics.

The AAFP recognizes inappropriate use of antibiotics as a risk to both personal and public health and encourages only the appropriate use of these medications. Several groups, specifically those in the medical and food production communities, have the power to slow the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“As family physicians, we are deeply concerned about the threat that antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses to public health. This can’t be done alone. Everyone — particularly people in the medical and food production fields — can help combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” Robert Wergin, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said.

The AAFP calls for food production-related measures that:

  • Reduce antibiotic use in food production
  • Require a proof of efficacy and a positive cost/benefit analysis for any antibiotics used in food production. The analysis should take into account the ultimate costs to human health care, including not just economic costs, but morbidity and mortality costs as well.

The AAFP calls on the medical community to administer antibiotics only when needed. As part of the Choosing Wisely campaign, the AAFP has identified recommendations that aim to reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics. The Choosing Wisely campaign encourages specialty societies to identify commonly used tests or procedures that are possibly overused. The AAFP identified two procedures related to antibiotic use that physicians and patients should question. They include:

  • Don’t prescribe antibiotics for otitis media in children aged 2-12 years with non-severe symptoms where the observation option is reasonable.
  • Don’t routinely prescribe antibiotics for acute mild-to-moderate sinusitis unless symptoms last for seven or more days OR symptoms worsen after initial clinical improvement.
While it’s true antibiotics save countless lives, their overuse and misuse is rapidly becoming a public health crisis. Many drug-resistant strains of bacteria, or superbugs, can make you extremely sick. Think super gonorrhea, or the worst case of food poisoning you can imagine.

Some bacterial illnesses that were once easily cured by antibiotics have become harder to treat. From urinary tract infections to serious hospital-borne pathogens, many treatments have become less successful as bacteria learn to fight back.

“Family physicians are concerned about the threat that antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses to public health,” said Robert Wergin, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “Doctors must educate their patients about appropriate antibiotic use, and patients need to understand that antibiotics are often not the best course of treatment.”

There are steps you can take to relieve cold and flu symptoms when antibiotics won’t work:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer to relieve cough, sore throat and sinus pain caused by cold and bronchitis.
  • Avoid smoking and other airborne pollutants.
  • Suck on ice chips, or use throat spray or lozenges to sooth a sore throat. Note: Never give lozenges to children.
  • Take ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen as directed to relieve pain or fever.
  • Place a warm moist cloth over the ear that hurts.
  • Take decongestants or saline nasal spray to relieve nasal symptoms.
  • Place a warm compress over the nose and forehead to help relieve sinus pressure.
  • Breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or shower.
Conclusion
WrapupTell ’em what you told ’em in this one- to two-sentence paragraph.

Tip: Copy your nut graph, paste it into the conclusion and massage for a great, low-work wrapup.

Janelle might have written something like, “Unless you have an infection, these approaches are likely to work better than antibiotics anyway — and without the horror movie-style side effects.”

KickerThe great thing about inverted pyramids is you just stop typing. Features require an ending. To leave a lasting impression, go with something that’s concrete, creative and provocative.

I might add a detail or analogy to make this quote more interesting.

“Antibiotics do a tremendous good, but there’s a flip side of that coin. We have to recognize the risks of inappropriate antibiotic use, and commit to using these medications appropriately,” Wergin said.“Nobody likes to be sick, but sometimes the best course of action is to treat the symptoms and ride it out,” Wergin said. “Antibiotics do a tremendous good, but there’s a flip side of that coin. We must recognize the risks of inappropriate antibiotic use and use these medications appropriately, or we may find ourselves in a crisis where serious illnesses outsmart our means to treat them.”

More engaging, easier to read

In addition to re-crafting this piece into a feature story, Janelle also increased her Flesch Reading Ease score from 16.1 to 52.5 — an increase of 226 percent.

So which of these stories would you rather read? And how can you use the feature-style story structure in your next piece?

Catch Your Readers

If you want to Catch Your Readers, you need to think like a reader. Then you need to use the bait your reader likes, not the bait you like. Problem is, many of the techniques we’ve institutionalized in business communication writing are not the bait the reader likes.

In Catch Your Readers — a two-day Master Class on October 27-28 in Washington, D.C. — we’ll debunk destructive writing myths, how-we’ve-always-done-its and relics from Writing 101. (You’re not still stuffing all those W’s into the lead, are you?!) You’ll leave with scientific, proven-in-the-lab approaches for getting people to pay attention to, understand, remember and act on your messages.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Think Like a Reader: Move people to act
  • Go Beyond the Inverted Pyramid: Master a structure that’s been proven in the lab to reach more readers
  • Cut Through the Clutter: Make every piece you write measurably easier to read and understand
  • Lift Your Ideas Off the Page Or Screen: Reach flippers and skimmers, increase readership
  • Edit, write, repeat: Bring your laptop and a story to work on, write and rewrite, get and give feedback, and leave with a totally rewritten piece

Learn more about the Master Class.

Would you like to hold an in-house Catch Your Readers workshop? Contact Ann directly.

Register for Writing Workshop in Washington D.C.

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“WEB RAGE: When Net frustration turns into violence. Most harmless form: A computer monitor gets whacked. Most serious: A cubicle mate gets whacked.”
— BuzzWhack

Are you giving your readers e-somnia?

Bedtime screen reading keeps folks up all night

Here’s one more obstacle to reaching readers online: Reading that email or blog post before bedtime can literally cause your readers to lose sleep.

Are you giving your readers esomnia

One more thing that’ll kill you The blue light from an electronic device may increase your readers’ risks for cancer and heart disease. Image by James Royal-Lawson

At least, that’s what researchers from Harvard Medical School at Brigham and Women’s Hospital say.

The researchers observed folks reading an e-book on an iPad for four hours before bedtime. Then they watched the same participants read printed books before bedtime.

The results?

Reading from a screen before bedtime makes readers:

  • Stay awake longer. Screen readers took 10 minutes longer to fall asleep than print readers. That’s because blue light from the screen reduces readers’ levels of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep and sleep cycles.
  • Get sick. That reduction in melatonin may also increase readers’ risk of contracting breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, studies show.
  • Suffer body clock confusion. Their device’s blue light also messes with readers’ circadian rhythms. In other words, reading your blog post on an iPad at 10 p.m. can give your readers jet lag. (And my goal in life is to never write anything that makes my readers feel as if they’ve just stumbled off of a flight from Boston to Bhutan.)
  • Enjoy less REM sleep. Known as the “dreaming” phase, this crucial stage of sleep is what lets our brains process memories, emotions and stress. Afraid your co-workers might go postal? Have you ever considered that your Web copy might be the culprit?
  • Stumble into work late and exhausted. Not exactly the purpose of our intranet, is it?

Communicators obviously can’t control when or on what device audience members read. But we can control the message. When you’re writing for the screen, make messages faster and easier to read.

Next steps: Get Clicked, Read, Shared and Liked

Want to get the word out with social media?

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“Very valuable. Actionable information rather than just theory. I can put this information right to work.”
— Michelle Douglas, public relations manager, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina

Ann’s touring schedule

Polish your skills at one of these events

Alas, I can’t invite you to the in-house seminars I present for private organizations.

Ann's touring schedule image

Come along for the ride Catch Ann at one of her upcoming workshops.

But everyone’s invited to these upcoming public seminars in:

  • San Francisco on July 29 and 30: Master the Art of Corporate Storytelling, a two-day Master Class. Learn to engage readers with metaphor, wordplay, storytelling and more. Bring your laptop, and leave with a totally rewritten story.
  • Tacoma on Aug. 19: Create Content Marketing Pieces That Almost Write Themselves, a half-day workshop for PRSA Puget Sound
  • New Jersey on Sept. 21: Catch Your Readers, a one-day writing workshop for IABC New Jersey.
  • Washington, D.C. on Oct. 27 and 28: Catch Your Readers, a two-day Master Class
  • Atlanta on Nov. 9: Ann presents Make Your Copy More Creative, a breakout session at the PRSA World Conference at 11:45 a.m. and an Expert Express session at 3:45 p.m.

Would you like to attend? Please contact meeting planners directly for details.

Can’t make these events? If you’d like to bring me in for a workshop at your organization, contact me.

Want to polish your skills? Keep up with Ann’s latest two-day Master Classes.

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Where in the world is Ann?

Cut your training costs when you piggyback your program

Save money when you piggyback your workshop by scheduling it when I’m already “in the neighborhood.” Book your program the day before or after another organization’s and split my airfare and ground transportation with the other group.

Ask about piggybacking on my upcoming engagements in:

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan: Sept. 29
  • Atlanta: Nov. 9
  • Austin, Texas: July 9
  • Falls Church, Virginia: Dec. 2
  • Houston: Sept. 2
  • New Jersey: Sept. 21
  • New York: Sept. 24
  • Oakland, California: Aug. 3
  • Raleigh, North Carolina: Oct. 6-7 & Nov. 3-4
  • Richland, Washington: July 23-24
  • San Francisco: July 29-30
  • Seattle, Washington: Aug. 18
  • Tacoma, Washington: Aug. 19
  • Washington, D.C.: Oct. 27-28

Save even more: Ask about my communication-association discounts and second-day fee reductions.

Contact me to discuss piggybacking.

Want to polish your skills? Bring me in for a workshop at your organization.

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What are we up to?

The folks at Wylie Communications have been enjoying:

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