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Corporate writing is real writing, too

A a computer and a phone on a desk

Back in the mid 1990s, I casually mentioned to someone that I wrote for a living. When she asked what kind of writing I did, I replied corporate writing. The look on her face turned … not quite to disgust but to confusion.

She paused for a second to collect her thoughts then blurted out Oh, you’re not a real writer then.

That ended the conversation then and there.

From 1993 until recently, I made the bulk of my living through corporate writing — mostly technical writing, but also some marketing and copywriting thrown in. While corporate writing can seem dull and plodding, I’m here to tell you that it’s real writing. As real as penning articles and blog posts and books and stories.

Let’s look some misconceptions about corporate writing, and why I think it’s as real as any other form of writing

Corporate writing is staid and boring

It can be, but I think that’s been changing for a while.

Sure, you can’t indulge in the flights of fancy that you can with a short story. You can’t embrace your inner poet. But you need to use your imagination to write effectively in the corporate sphere.

You need to use your imagination, to try to come up with interesting angles. Where necessary, you need to tell a story. You need to use your skills to keep readers interested and to keep them reading to the end.

The stories you tell need to be compelling and relevant. You need to write in a conversational tone, speaking with your readers rather than speaking to them.

Corporate writing is limiting

Once upon a time, you would have been limited to writing memos, reports, and the like. You might have written marketing or sales copy, too. But the scope of corporate writing has expanded.

Sure, you might still be writing memos and reports. You might write marketing or sales material. You might even be doing policies and procedures. But there are other types of writing you can do, too.

Like what? How about internal or customer-facing blog posts, writing ebooks, doing content marketing, social media writing, scripts for tutorials, and more.

Corporate writing is long winded

Again, it can be. And, again, that’s changing.

Companies are learning that to get and keep the attention of customers, potential customers, and employees the writing they publish needs to be concise but interesting. Long-winded tracks are being replaced by shorter, tighter copy.

In a lot of ways, good corporate writing is a lot like good journalism. You need to convey an idea in the fewest, best words. If you don’t, you risk losing the interest of your reader. A reader who could become a new customer or who’s an employee trying to improve their work.

Final thought

While corporate writing won’t get you the attention that a magazine feature or book will, corporate writing can not just pay the bills but also challenge you as a writer. There’s a lot of potential for variety, too.

The key to good corporate writing is to communicate with others, whether they’re inside the company or without. The key is to make that communication as interesting and compelling as possible.

And if that’s not real writing, I don’t know what is.

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