Right, why writing right is right for writing right internal comms… right?

20 June 2024

What, why, where, who, and when are just five little words, helpfully, all starting with a w, so they are easy to remember. 

The next time that horrifically blank Word document stares back at you, willing you to create an award-winning piece of internal comms content, but you’ve got nothing in the tank, start by answering your five Ws. What do I need to get across? Why are we doing it? Where is it happening? To who and when

It’s a good place to start. 

Of course, there are some nuances and other bits and pieces to consider when writing for an internal communications audience. But keeping those five little words in your mind and sketching out rough answers to each question should give you a nice basis from which to start your story, email, or that passive-aggressive note asking people not to nick your yoghurt from the shared work fridge. 

Of course, as the Fun Boy Three and Bananarama so wisely once sang, it’s not what you do; it’s the way that you do it. (I did promise never to mention them again in a previous blog, but here we are—sorry!) 

What the 80s pop funsters were obviously trying to say is that while what you say is important, it’s the way that you get it across that will keep everyone on tenterhooks eagerly awaiting your next beautifully composed piece of content. 

Answering those five little questions is the bones of your story, your email (or that passive-aggressive note we spoke about earlier), and it’s a useful mantra to stick to.  

Let’s get to the point already 

If you like a bit of overly flowery prose good for you, but don’t forget to get to the point. It’s a crying shame, but people will scan and read what you put in front of them. In fact, you’re scanning this now I bet. 

All those hours wrestling with your thesaurus (why isn’t there another name for thesaurus?) are to nought if you don’t get to the bleeding point up top.  

That’s why I started with the five ‘Ws’ in the first two paragraphs, that was the point I wanted you to remember. Of course, you may have dropped off to sleep by this paragraph, in which case you won’t be reading this bit anyway. 

KISS! Thought that might wake you up. KISS, of course, stands for keep it simple, silly. That last S actually stands for stupid, but not being overly rude to your readers is another good takeaway to remember. 

So, be less Dostoevsky and more Post-it note. Clarity of message is king. Keeping things simple and ensuring clarity of your message is king, and the king of your writing is clarity of message (a little bit of repeating your core message will help get it across, too, hopefully you saw what I did there). 

Let’s utilise your leverage and deal with the shark 

Write how you talk. Who in real life says utilise instead of use? Have you ever heard anyone say’ leverage’ in any conversation you’ve had throughout your life? What does leverage even mean? 

It’s not big or clever to use long words. Or to tie lead weights to your writing with silly business speak that people will either laugh at or roll their eyes at. 

One old boss of mine, when we were faced with putting out some crisis communications, said we should ‘deal with the shark closest to the boat’. I remember what they were saying, I guess, but it was difficult to take anything else they said seriously after that! 

Slay that dragon

KISS doesn’t mean what we say has to be boring. If you’ve got a bit of space to delve into a topic a bit more, then a bit of storytelling does wonders. People like to hear about other people. If you’ve had a brilliant fiscal year, maybe focus on the people who delivered it, why they did what they did, and what barriers they overcame. We want to know how and why they had to slay that financial dragon rather than getting bogged down in numbers.  

People stories stimulate the soul and spark neurons. Adopting a more human approach means your communications can ring out across the corporate wilderness like a lonely wolf baying for the attention of its pack or a bellowed yodel across a pristine alpine valley. Sorry, got carried away there for a minute, should have kept it simple! 

The point is that a human-inspired story is more likely to be remembered by your people and talked about and shared. 

It’s what AI can’t do yet, it can’t be you. All those AI bots scrabbling across the internet for content helping you prepare that last-minute presentation to your boss can’t compete against your experience, your emotions, and your human responses. 

Reject AI and bring a bit of yourself into your writing. This will keep it honest, genuine, and, importantly, relatable to your audience.  

Rejecting AI will also keep copywriters like me in a job, of course (ahem). 

So, remember your five WSs and KISS. 

Oh, and let’s be more human… hah! Take that AI! 

Remember, we’re here to help with copywriting, storytelling, design, digital strategy, internal communications, EVP, and more! 

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