Nothing sadder than a lost opportunity

Writing accurately doesn’t equal writing well. 

When earning an undergraduate degree, soon-to-be PR professionals learn to write in the news-pyramid style of a beat reporter: put the most important bit of information first, followed by items of decreasing significance. 

Fine if you’re a beat reporter, I suppose. Lousy if you want someone to read and care about what you’re writing. (And “someone” should include editors.) 

Here’s the start of a recent FedEx press release out of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India: 

Safe Kids Foundation, India’s first childhood injury prevention organization, and FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company, today launched the Safe Kids Walk This Way program with school children in Mumbai. This program aims to educate child pedestrians and save lives, and will be introduced in additional schools over the next year.

What a lost opportunity! It’s wordy, stilted and somewhat passive. 

When you think of FedEx, what comes to mind? Speed, right? Speedy drivers, specifically, right? So how about an attention-grabbing start like this: 

FedEx drivers spend 10 hours a day on the same streets Indian children play near. Now, they’re helping make sure those children stay safe.

 Or 

When a child in Mumbai, India, crosses the street, a FedEx driver is watching out for him. FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company, today joined the Safe Kid Foundation to launch Safe Kids Walk This Way, a program to educate Mumbai’s schoolchildren about pedestrian safety.

By personalizing the story and painting a picture in the reader’s mind, you suddenly give him or her something to care about. You take the spotlight off FedEx and put it where it belongs. And you create a piece of writing people don’t struggle to read. 

Because they won’t, you know. And all your work will have been for nothing.

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One thought on “Nothing sadder than a lost opportunity

  1. Why is this common sense style of strategic writing so out of reach for so many? If we all just wrote like we were explaining something to our grandma, that would be a start. And wouldn’t media hits be a better reward than milk and cookies?! Mmmm … good writing … I can almost taste it …

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