Alyssa’s Blog

Writing for a Corporation
April 10, 2007, 4:51 pm
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It seemed as though every business leader interviewed had about the same thing to say about writing. I got to the point where I could almost predict what the interviewee was going to say after a few of the interviews. The business leaders had similar ideas as the writers in that they felt that being a good writer meant being able to clearly and simply state what one is trying to express. They did not, however, say as much about the editing, drafting, and reviewing process and the need for stream of conscience writing. The main thing that every leader stated was that having good writing abilities is one of the most important qualities a businessperson can have because it allows one to communicate clearly, quickly, and effectively. If you can’t write well, then you will constantly be questioned about what exactly you meant to get across, which leads to a lack of efficiency. It was also stated almost in every interview, that with the increase in the use of email, effective and concise writing is increasingly important. One interviewee stated that before email was used as a consistent form of communication, it wasn’t as necessary for a business person to know how to write extremely well; they could simply give their letter, report, etc. to a secretary who could do the drafting and editing for them. But now, as companies are constantly communicating via email, a company executive cannot simply forward all of his messages to a secretary and have her reply. It is essential that a businessperson know how to write effectively and clearly so that the recipient can, in turn, respond quickly and thus, keep company productivity high. One last thing that all of the interviewees seemed to agree on was the need for the writer to know how to relate to his/her audience. Almost all made the point that it is not only important to know how to write effectively, but also to know how to write effectively in a way that the reader can relate and understand. All of these huge corporations have to communicate with or express ideas to numbers of different audiences, and each of these audiences requires a different style of writing and a different way of expressing thoughts. As one interviewee said, you can’t write to a computer networker the same way you would communicate with a customer. You must write so that your audience can understand clearly what you are saying. The better the audience can understand, the more efficient the resulting communication will be and the more productive the company will be. When a consumer can buy a product with a user manual that clearly explains how to use the product, the corporation is much more likely to get their business again. Clear, efficient, and audience-directed writing is essential to working in the business world.


Report Ideas
April 10, 2007, 3:26 am
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I’m considering doing my report on communication in the education field. I am already interviewing my uncle, a PhD. student as well as director for a international study program, and, thus, will have a significant amount of information about his views on communication in the education field (in his case, higher-level education). My grandfather, on the other hand, was a high school principal for a number of years, and after retiring, taught a few education courses at the University of Missouri. I think it would be interesting to compare his thoughts on communicating in the education sector to my uncle’s thoughts. I would like to see if they have similar views and methods, or if instead their ideas are very different. It would also be interesting to see if these differences emerge from the age gap or if they emerge from association with different levels of education. I will also do some research, of course, to see if the overwhelming opinion on educational communication follows what I learn from my interviews, and in the case that it doesn’t, I will probably base my report mainly on credible research resources. In the book, Write Up the Corporate Ladder, one of the authors interviewed said that professors never liked his work because it wasn’t “academic” enough, or as he argued, it wasn’t confusing enough. He seemed to make a point that what passes in the academic world doesn’t pass in the usual business world because it’s too confusing and based on big words and intriquite thoughts. Thus, does communication amongst administration in the academic world follow these rules of “confusion” that the professors seem to follow, or do they work to communicate clearly, simply, and effectively, as the top business leaders say must be done?

Writing up the corporate ladder
April 5, 2007, 7:24 pm
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There were a couple points that I felt were reiterated by each person interviewed:

1. Rewrite your work, over and over. I definitely have a problem doing this because I’m often writing in a hurry and usually give papers only one quick look over before turning them in. I usually try to through the editing, drafting jobs to whoever is sitting next to me, asking them what they think and if they find any typos. It’s an excellent point though. One of the author’s stated that professional writers are never happy with what they’ve written, and thus rewrite and draft it over and over again. I’m not sure how to take this though, because I’m usually never happy with what I’ve written, but other people tell me that it’s good. Like another of the authors, I pretty much base my contentment with my work on what other people think of it, not what I think of it. I think this is a good idea too, because often we can get so caught up in ourselves and our egos that we don’t realize our writing could be more effective given other’s opinions. Feedback is very important. You’re writing won’t go anywhere if everyone else hates it.

2. Don’t search for the perfect sentence. I loved this advice. I think too often I do this. I can sit and stare at my computer for an hour just trying to think of the perfect sentence because I refuse to go on until I get it out. I’ve probably wasted at least a month or two of my life doing this, which is very frustrated. Next time I sit there searching for the perfect word, I’m definitely going to remind myself of this and just keep going. The idea of using stream of conscience writing seems like it can be very effective. It’s best to just go with what you’re thinking, because most likely, it will be more informal and less boring than a perfectly worded sentence would be. My favorite author was the one who said that kids loved his text book because he and his co-author didn’t know any big words, so it was easy for students to understand. I always get frustrated when I see my Journalism friends’ work because I don’t know half the words they’re using, and I know I could never write like they can. But, now I realize… if I can’t understand it, what are the odds the majority of others can? I might as well be straightforward and clear in my writing.

Interviews on Writing Styles
April 5, 2007, 7:13 pm
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When given the writing profile assignment, I knew exactly who I wanted to interview from the beginning, with no consideration of anyone else.  The person I admire most and feel has the most interesting/exciting job is my uncle.  Most recently he worked for a program called AustraLearn which coordinates study abroad programs in Australia and New Zealand.  He obviously travels a lot for this job, visiting different universities throughout the nation, which makes me curious about how he communicates in such a field.  With frequent traveling, I’m sure he emails a lot, though I’m not sure if this is the primary sort of writing that he engages in.  I would like to learn if his job requires a lot of writing and whether this writing is typically in email form.  As a director of such a program, he probably also communicates with a lot of people in administrative academic positions, and I would like to learn how he communicates with them.  Is he professional, or more informal?  I also have a feeling that he probably has to communicate with a number of people from New Zealand and Australia, and I wonder if the writing etiquette is different there.  Is how he writes to communicate with people in America different from writing to people in foreign countries?  Not only has he been a director for this program, but he is also a PhD. student at NYU.  It would be interesting to learn if he goes about writing for a profession differently than he does writing for a doctorate degree.  Is he informal in writing for jobs, but formal for school writing, or vice versa?  Or, possibly, does he go about them the same?  I feel as though he is very well-accomplished, and is continuing to aspire to new goals, and doing this interview could tell me how writing, and his writing style(s), have played into his accomplishments.  I think that the only challenge I’m fairly concerned about is that I may have too much information for the assignment.  There are a lot of different aspects of writing that I can ask him about, and it will be difficult to decide which ones to focus on.

Blogging (Crisis, Technology, etc.)
March 25, 2007, 2:37 am
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I’d never thought of businesses using blogging during a crisis. Personally, if given the option of waiting and collecting all information before responding, or responding immediately with little information, I would have chosen the first. I would think that the best policy would be to get all of the information and respond according to that information because then you would have less a chance of retracting what you said later. Scoble and Israel, however, proved me wrong. I had never considered that during that time of deliberation and information-gathering, customers were losing faith in the company and being led to believe that the business was simply developing the best response to support profits. They’re right. If businesses use their blogs to be real and honest (I know I keep emphasizing it, but I think it’s the most amazing part about blogs) and respond immediately to crises, letting customers know what’s REALLY going on, customers will know that the business is concerned about them and their needs. It goes back to the simple fact that they have reiterated throughout the book: a business’s blog is about relating to customers, developing their trust, etc. It is NOT simply about marketing your product through advertisement — it’s about marketing it through trust and a relationship. I also had no idea that there were so many advancements with the web. I guess I had always just gone with the flow when it came to new internet browsers. I downloaded Mozilla for the simple fact that everyone told me it was so amazing. I found nothing different except the fact that the page looked different when it was searching and it didn’t go straight to as its home. Apparently, though, there is much more too it. From both a customer and business perspective, I guess the RSS is pretty amazing. I probably don’t understand the extent of how great it is since I don’t often read blogs, but I could see how it could become quite time consuming to have to search through each site you look at every day to see if it has been updated. The technological advancements are unarguably amazing, and also incredibly difficult for me to keep up with. The idea of ongoing blogging conversations, though, I can keep up with, and I think is awesome. Naked conversations, real conversations, ongoing conversations, they can all benefit us in some way or another.

March 25, 2007, 12:37 am
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Scoble and Israel make some excellent points about what’s right and wrong in blogging. I think the fact that Hugh MacLeod gives out Lame Awards is fabulous. I don’t really read blogs very much, but I’m glad there’s someone credible and, most importantly, real out there who is willing to tell corporations that their blogs are lame and they need to step it up and simply be honest. I like the fact that there are do’s and dont’s of blogging, and they pretty much revolve around being honest and real about your story, and not using your blog for marketing schemes. For once, I feel like corporations have been given a reason not to lie. The fact that corporations can benefit from letting their employees criticize them in their blogs is encouraging. Does this possibly mean that those stubborn corporations that ban their employees from speaking to the public world will slowly lose credibility and customer base to the point where they will have the choice of going under or finally allowing criticism? Of course, this would take a long time, but who says it couldn’t happen. Are we on the brink of a real division between the worthwhile businesses and the one’s that are just trying to fool us? The possibilities and opportunities that arise from these “naked conversations” are interesting and exciting to think about. Out of complete self-interest will companies be forced to change their ways and be interested in others if they want to keep afloat? It seems completely contradictory, but blogs seem to make it possible. Scoble and Israel make it pretty clear: if you want your blog to succeed, you have to be real and honest. You have to tell stories, but not ones that are simply made up, characterized marketing campaigns. And, if you want to develop a relationship of trust with your customers, you’ve got to allow some criticism. Who knew there would come a time when it would be a business stand to allow dissent rather than support?

March 13, 2007, 5:43 pm
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As a one semester, freshman year journalism major, I really enjoyed the fact that companies are using blogging as a a response to bad journalism.  Usually, the only “check  and balance” system that journalists have, are other trustworthy journalists.  As a journalism major, I learned that the journalist’s primary responsibility is telling the truth to the reader, but I also learned that it is very tempting to skew information or only use that which is actually interesting.  Indeed, there are great journalists that do their best to be objective and truthful in their articles, but more often than not, there are often a good number of journalists who aren’t.  I think blogging is a great tactic for trying to create a “check” system, making it harder for journalists to get away with bad reporting.  Personally, I would much rather read a blog written by a company executive, that tells what’s being done and why it’s being done from the true source, than what a journalist says is being done in the company.  I would much rather hold the company accountable for what they say, and base my opinion on whether they follow what they say, than base my opinion on what a journalists says a company says.
I also think the fact that small companies with little publicity can use blogs as easy and accurate PR is great. Like the authors said, there are a lot of great companies and people out there who just can’t get in and create a buzz about themselves. By using a blog, a customer or investor doesn’t have to read your business plan to learn what your business is about. Instead (and I find this even more appealing), they can find out what your about, and decide whether they want to do business with you based on who you are and what you say about yourself and your business. I believe if I were to create a business I would have a much easier time developing a client-base by creating a blog rather than creating lame ads or over-done ads. I would have much more respect for a company that has a blog than one that has a lame commercial on tv with a corny jingle.