Michele Jimenez

Corporate newswriting

Internal news employees need to do thier jobs better

What do employees want to know?

The answer is simple. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself: What do I need to know to do my job better?

"I want to know what’s going on."

People want to belong and feel needed. That’s human nature. In the workplace, this means they want to know how their job relates to the rest of the organization.

When people feel like a part of the company, they’re more likely to care about its success and to do what they can to help it succeed. Corporate news for all employees at all levels helps everyone see “the big picture” and understand their role in the organization.

"My manager doesn’t always share what he knows."

People usually receive information from their managers. Yet managers do not always share what they know. Some bosses hoard information in an effort to retain power while others may simply forget to share what they know, omit details they deem unimportant or just have poor communication skills.

Whatever the reason, people need a number of ways to get information and no one method works for everyone. Well-written corporate news supplements managerial communication.

"That’s not what I wanted to say."

Unlike investigative journalism, corporate newswriters rely heavily on employee cooperation and expertise for story ideas and technical accuracy. This often involves multiple drafts of even short articles. Patience and diplomacy are essential qualities for retaining employee goodwill and ongoing cooperation. Corporate newswriting is a collaborative effort.

"What’s a slam dunk?"

A woman from Romania who worked at a Swedish company once asked me, “What’s a slam dunk?” Her American boss had used the term during a staff meeting in reference to an agenda item. “This is a slam dunk,” he said, then moved to the next point. Few, if anyone else, in the room knew what a slam dunk was, but no one dared ask.

When writing for an international audience, every word, sentence, and thought must be reviewed for simplicity and clarity. Avoid slang, idioms, and cultural references that may be confusing or incomprehensible to people for whom English is a second, third, or fourth language.

(So what is a slam dunk? In American basketball, players sometimes smash or “slam” the ball against the backboard before jamming or "dunking" it through the hoop to score. Slam dunk generally means something that’s beyond doubt—a sure thing.)

“This reads like alphabet soup!”

Sometimes a client says, "It’s good enough. They’ll know what I mean." No they won’t! Especially if the client is using a lot of acronyms or assuming special knowledge on the part of the reader. If something is hard to understand, no one will read it–let alone a colleague halfway around the world.

Astute editors proofread everything from an outsider’s point of view to eliminate hidden assumptions and unnecessary corporate jargon.

"I don’t have time for long articles."

When it comes to corporate news, most people have neither the time nor desire to read long articles about the company and its products. Yet on-staff writers, often under pressure from their bosses or colleagues, sometimes try to cram too much information into what is intended to be a brief announcement or short news article.

An outside consultant can be better-positioned to resist this pressure and keep internal, online news articles as short as possible (just a few sentences). Articles should always provide contact names and sources where readers can go for more more information. For longer articles, other venues such are the corporate magazine are more effective than the company’s internal news network.

 

Michele Jiménez hails from the U.S. state of Minnesota. But in a flight of fancy that most certainly caused her Sweden-born forebears to turn in their graves, she moved to their ancestral homeland in 1990 where she currently resides. Michele has worked as a political aide, public policy analyst, management consultant, high school teacher, language coach, and, most recently, corporate newswriter.

"I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma." – Eartha Kitt

"Michele is an excellent writer and reporter. She's keeps me informed, meets deadlines, and easily handles both lighter features and technica ltexts. At least as important, she understands business-to-business writing and knows how to keep customers happy while maintaining a high journalistic standard." Bert Menninga, international corporate editor. Bonnier Read more...

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