Practices in Professional Writing: An Extensive Guide

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practices in professional writing

Introduction – Professional Writing in General

Effective communication is vital for any business professional to succeed in a workplace environment. Every day a business professional is asked to produce specialized documents. These documents are created to report information, confirm existing information or initiate an argument with the goal for change within an organization. Executives are receptive to an employee who has proper business etiquette and shows experience.

This leads to respect within the organization as well as possible salary increases and promotions. Effective communication skills are essential in conveying a message to intended recipients especially in today’s business environment, which requires precise collaboration between marketing, finance, human resources, and supply chain departments.

Personal and Professional Writing Practices and Experience

Last summer, I was a marketing intern for a private online advertising and global marketing company. This was the first professional environment I was employed in. I was required to create specialized business documents on a regular basis.  I had to always remain sharp to make sure my work was flawless as it was delivered to upper level management for analysis. On a daily basis I was heavily involved in analyzing the trends in revenue, profit margins, budget and other marketing metrics.

I used the program Microsoft Excel primarily to aid me in creating reports for management. With no previous experience using Microsoft Excel, it became apparent to me that the program was a powerful tool to report marketing information and performance metrics. Every day I extracted numbers from the internal reporting systems into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. There were thousands of accounts for each spreadsheet, which taught me the necessity to highlight important information and present it in a way that executives could quickly, and easily, understand.

Making the reports accurate, timely, and most importantly, understandable became my primary responsibility during my internship. Every company has a variety of employees with different personalities and expectations. I received feedback every week after submitting reports and quickly learned how to format the different reports in a specific way to accommodate each individual’s personal style.

What I have gathered from this experience is that to be taken seriously in today’s competitive workplace environment, one must tailor every email, report, and document so that it delivers an effective message and gives the recipient the information they truly want. As a new hire in a work environment, I was subjected to a set number of tasks and assignments each day. These tasks served as performance benchmarks to see how I may perform at more complex assignments. Overall the internship was a great success and gave me a foot in the door in the marketing and advertising industry.

Typically the times when I engage in personal writing is in an academic setting. I usually do not write unless there is a clear definable goal and purpose behind writing. When I write content  I am extrinsically motivated by the idea that if I put more time into it now, then it will pay off later by receiving a high grade on the assignment. After my internship at experience, I developed an interest in writing content for blogs.  Article writing and news reporting have evolved due to the exponential growth of the Internet. Currently over 360 million people use the Internet, which is proving to be a gold mine for Internet marketers.

Creating articles on the internet

When a Blogger creates content that is posted on the Internet, they strive to create articles that reach at the top of queries on search engines. The practice of tailoring online content to gain popularity on search engines is known as search engine optimization, or SEO. (Harper) An online marketer has a very complex task to create content that will be picked up by popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

When a document is posted on a website, an algorithm determines how relevant the information on the web page is. This is determined by many factors including, but not limited to, keyword density, website format, inbound and outbound links and the age of the website. Mastering SEO is not easy and requires trial and error when posting content to the web. It is becoming imperative that marketers utilize SEO tactics when writing articles, due the fact that users rely heavily on search engines to find relevant information.

Social media is an essential tool for marketing.  Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other small social media networks are on the frontline for companies to communicate their messages to the public. Internet marketers generate groups on Facebook to attract potential or existing customers with similar interests. When posting a Facebook update, marketers need to be rhetorically aware of how the audience will interpret their messages be understand the demographic of the Facebook group they are posting to.

Statistically, utilizing social websites are successful in marketing campaigns. In a recent marketing survey,88% of marketers claimed they use social media networks with 81% of them reporting that they gained business exposure as a result. As far as experience level, 72% reported being beginners. (Zeke) This shows that this is a relatively new market with potential for growth. Marketers are most successful when they create pages that generate thousands of “likes,” and followers on Twitter.

The benefit to this is the ability to send information instantaneously to a group of devoted fans. There are two main ways for a marketer to bring in a demographic on social media websites. The first is to analyze trends using free web information companies such as (“Alexa Audit Tool” ) Alexa shows in real time the terms users are searching for on the Internet. Internet marketers can then employ search engine optimization (SEO) tactics in their writing to dominate the search engines and write articles that people will want to read.

Formats and Principles of Professional and Workplace Writing

While each profession in the business world requires specific knowledge, formats and lingo, all workplace writing encompasses key requirements that provide a framework for professional grade communication. These elements are universally expected in all aspects of business. Communicating properly in a business setting is an acquired skill, which is honed through participating in the business and carefully observing professionals to gain a better understanding of people’s professional expectations.

The most basic form of professional communication is writing business letters, or emails. The first principle for a professional business letter is to know who the recipient is.  (Malhotra) A professional will address the CEO of a company in a different manner than they would address the janitor who cleans the office. Co-workers and upper management have expectations as to the way they should be addressed. The information presented in the exchange should be relevant to the recipient’s field in terms that make sense.  Not only should the content of the email be concise, proficient and to the point, but the signature of the email is just as important as the content.  The signature of the email should signify respect and professionalism.

Another principle of business writing is to write clearly without ambiguity. There should be a clear understanding of what is being expressed in the letter. (Malhotra) This means that the information should be presented in a logical form with proper punctuation and grammar to ensure the reader does not have to re-read sentences to understand their purpose. The message of the letter should not be hidden or vague, but rather the reader should be able to skim through the letter quickly and pick up the message without too much effort. Time is very valuable in any organization and employees’ time should be respected by providing them with rich information and trimming away what is unnecessary.

An additional principle of business writing is the art of writing effortlessly and naturally. (Malhotra)  The goal of business writing is to write as if you were speaking naturally. This will ensure that the intent of the letter will be understood. Your perceived personality is taken into consideration when a professional is reading your document, which makes it important to write in a natural tone.

Writing completely is a fundamental principle of business writing. (Malhotra) Being thorough is necessary to reduce questions and concerns a reader may have. Every business decision is important and has a ripple effect throughout the organization; therefore all business writing should be successful in answering all questions or providing the most relevant information. Writing completely means you should always edit your work and making sure you are happy with the work that is being submitted. If you are not proud of what you wrote there is a high chance that the recipient will not be either.

A final principle of business writing is to be courteous and considerate. (Malhotra) When business is conducted, a key factor success is to gain respect and reach a common understanding with the other party. This can be achieved directly speaking to a business partner and supplemented through courteous and respectful writing. When composing an email a professional must address the person correctly, respond in a timely fashion to emails, and end an email in a respectful way. Usually “Regards, or Best Regards” will suffice. Providing appropriate contact information on the signature section of an email ensures the reader that you are available for inquiries.

Business writing is a discipline that requires a strong sense of professionalism, dedication to perfection and understanding the expectations of management and clients. Each profession in the business world has its own culture, which leads to a variety of specialized documents. Although each profession has differences, the fundamental concepts of knowing the recipient, writing, naturally, completely and without ambiguity and being courteous and considerate are all essential in business writing.

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