Advice and tips on becoming a good writer from Keri Hammond, FSMPS, CPSM
We’ve all written something poorly. Maybe it was a work email that was too cold. Perhaps a school paper that burned the teacher’s eyes with grammatical errors. In the professional world, bad writing isn’t tolerated. It’s the difference between winning a project and being stuck scrambling for more work.
So how does someone become a better writer?
Write Every Day
“Write something every day,” challenges MARKETLINK Principal Keri Hammond. Her initial foray into becoming a better writer in her first AEC marketing position was writing summaries of four separate newspaper articles she had to read before beginning work. That challenge from her supervisor helped to build her vocabulary and confidence using different writing styles. “I still don’t LOVE writing, but I do enjoy the learning that comes from research and dissemination to different audiences.”
Learn About Your Topic
Another tip to becoming a better AEC industry writer is to see it as a learning exercise. “One of the tasks that was difficult for me in my first position was writing about technical topics. I didn’t feel qualified to write about subdivision infrastructure, architectural design or water resource projects,” Keri recalls. As she continued to ask questions to technical staff about projects and services offered by her engineering firm, she started feeling more educated about the AEC industry. “I read project descriptions, RFPs, proposal responses, project approaches, helped with project specifications, and learned as much as I could to learn what services I was responsible for communicating through marketing messages. I wanted to earn the respect of the technical staff so they would realize I was able to help them.”
It's All About Communication
Keri knows writing is a skill everyone needs to cultivate to elevate their best professional self. “Architects, contractors, and engineers did not go to school to learn how to write for marketing purposes,” debates Keri. Creating messages that can be easily understood by the reader is essential effective communication--and keeping a firm in business.“ We get work by providing written proof of our qualifications. Once we obtain a project, we document it through written words as well. If we are not able to communicate our message in a cohesive manner, we cannot prove we are able to do the work in a way that will benefit the client.”
Telling the Technical Story
Keri wants to promote the symbiosis of marketers and technical staff. “Writing for marketing purposes needs both technical and marketing expertise in order to tell our industry’s story effectively,” she asserts. “Once you understand the ‘product’ you are selling, you can take your creative writing skills and communicate the right message.” It goes beyond writing about project statistics--it means writing more about the challenges, opportunities, benefits, and solutions that were provided during the project delivery process. “As technical staff provides this insight, marketing staff can assist in the overall delivery of a branded voice for the firm.”
Keri firmly believes that the key to a successful career that includes promotions, respect, and joy requires the development of writing skills for both marketing and technical staff members. Take the time to practice this skill and learn to communicate the WRITE way.