Join us for two upcoming webinars on nonprofit writing: Writing for Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday, July 19, 2011 and Nonprofit Writing Stinks! Bring Your Writing Back to Life on Tuesday, August 9, 2011.
This week I came across an article entitled The 7 Deadly Sins of Writing. I expected a tirade about typos and misplaced modifiers, but found instead a very interesting list that's more about the craft of writing. Turns out the list was generated at a conference for writers of thriller novels.
Even though it comes from an entirely different genre of writing, I think the seven sins apply to nonprofit writing too, and especially the way we approach writing for social media.
Here are the seven writing sins the thriller novelists identified, with my spin for nonprofits.
Laziness. Good nonprofit communications isn't something where you can do the same thing over and over, or rush through it and check it off your list. You have to be there day in and day out, participating in the conversation with your supporters.
Trying to Be a Good Student. I see staff at so many nonprofits who are afraid to try something new. So instead, they read lots of blogs and attend lots of webinars, but don't actually DO anything with what they learn. Sure, I like it when you read my blog and attend our webinars, but I LOVE it when I get to see how that education is applied!
Marching Down the Outline. I'm a big advocate of editorial calendars. But don't let them dictate your life as a communicator. Be flexible and willing to adjust to what's happening this week, or today, to make your communications as relevant and timely as you can. This is essential in social media.
Denying Jealousy. Other nonprofits have all the luck, staff, and money. So what? Turn that jealousy into something useful by learning from what those groups are doing.
Focusing Too Heavily on Business. If you are too focused on raising money, or getting people to sign up for a program, you can easily lose the heart of your mission and why people care in the first place. Don't get so focused on the programs in your writing that we lose sight of the passionate people behind those programs.
Not Reading Books. This one I'd change to "Not Reading What You Write." If you want to write better tweets and Facebook updates, then you should read tweets and status updates from lots of other organizations. Same goes for e-newsletters, blogs, etc. The best writers -- of anything -- are also big readers.
Imitation. It's OK to be influenced by others (see Denying Jealousy above), but you don't want to flat-out copy other people. It's important that your organization stand out with its own voice and message.
Want more? Join us for Writing for Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday, July 19, 2011 and Nonprofit Writing Stinks! Bring Your Writing Back to Life on Tuesday, August 9, 2011.
This article first appeared in Kivi's weekly Nonprofit Marketing Tips newsletter on July 14, 2011.