Writing that gets results

writing that gets resultsSeveral years ago I was exploring a job opportunity with an international nonprofit. Paging through my portfolio, one of the interviewers paused to pose this question: “You’ve done a lot of different writing in your career—do you have a favorite type of writing? You’ve done Annual Reports, poetry, news releases—is there a certain style of writing or type of project you particularly enjoy?”

“Hmm, wow, that’s a good question,” I replied. “No one has ever asked me that before!”

I thought for a few seconds, and the answer became clearer even as I started to express it: “I like writing that gets results.”

Writing that gets results

For me, writing is not about self-expression. It’s not a hobby; it’s a job. (It’s a job I love, but it’s still a job.) It’s about accomplishing something, usually something quite specific.

  • When I write a fundraising appeal, I like to know how much money it raises, and then I like to compare that with the appeal I wrote the previous month.
  • When I write a training manual, I like to see people “get it” and then be able to do their jobs more confidently and efficiently.
  • When I write a donor report, I like to hear from the fundraising staff that their donors are excited about the work we are doing together.
  • When I write something as small as a business card, I like to know that in just a few words and a single image, it’s possible to convince a potential customer to make a call or send an email or visit a website.
  • Even when I write poetry, I want results: I appreciate hearing from readers that I expressed something they couldn’t express on their own.

All kinds of results

As I say in my Vision Statement, I want to use my wordsmithing skills to achieve whatever results my client is looking for, whether that is:

  • Inspiring noble deeds (Does your nonprofit need volunteers to step up?)
  • Organizing complex thoughts (Do you have a pile of research that needs to be condensed into a PowerPoint presentation?)
  • Replacing cynicism with trust (Does your industry suffer from a bad reputation that you want to change?)
  • Preserving historical truth (Does your family need to know what really happened when you came to America?)

All of this helps develop richer connections between people.

And that’s really the result we’re all looking for. We want to connect.

Helping you share your story

If you need help sharing your story in a way that connects—with clients, prospects, donors, family members, employees, web surfers, volunteers, whoever—email me.

We’ll talk about your project, figure out the goals, set up a timetable, and then get to work.

You’ll get back to doing what you do best.

And I’ll work on some writing that gets results.

 

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • David Brown April 11, 2013, 9:10 am

    I can see the results of your work when I look at the business cards you designed for me. I can understand results in business promotion, and when you write family stories. You lost me when you added poetry to your list. So I read the Good Friday poem, and the poem The Difference that you put in Cancer Freedom. It took a little while for me to understand that what I feel when I read these poems is the “result”, right?

    Reply
    • Melanie Jongsma, Wordsmith April 11, 2013, 12:18 pm

      I think that’s a good way to look at it, David. Poetry’s results are usually less measurable and more subjective than the results of a business card or a fundraising appeal, though there is some overlap. For example, if someone tells you, “I love your business card!” but she calls your competitor for a quote, then your business card has achieved some kind of emotional result but not a marketing result. If someone has your business card and your competitor’s business card side-by-side, and she decides to call you because she likes the picture on your card, then your business card has achieved a marketing result because of an emotional result!

      But you’re right, usually poetry does not have an intended result other than to create a feeling within a reader. And some poets are satisfied with simply expressing something, whether or not anyone “gets it.”

      Reply

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