Common Types of Writing (Writing the Right Words)

How you communicate is different depending on your relationship with your audience and the goal of your message. What are the common categories of business writing?

In the article ‘Who loves you, baby? (Who is your audience?)’, we discussed technical writing versus business writing. We may wonder, isn’t writing, pretty much the same no matter whatever business those words pertain to?

The answer is ‘no,’ not all types of writing are equal. How are these variations possible you may ask? Well, like other business needs, writing requirements vary depending on what goal is and who the audience is.

Technical Writing

A style of writing that explains functions, standards, products or services in detail

Examples

  • Policies and procedures
  • Network systems functionality
  • Training manuals and materials
  • Technical and functional specifications (computer and computer systems)
  • Online help
  • Internet and computer network functions
  • User guides and reference materials

Business Writing

The everyday writing used in physical offices and online businesses

Examples

  • Reports
  • Proposals
  • Letters and correspondence
  • Communications with audiences both internal and external to the business

Marketing and Public Relations

Marketing and public relations can be intertwined and hard to separate. These types of writing are used to promote the business’ products or services (marketing) or business identity / events / products (public relations).

Examples

  • Ads (television, internet and print [marketing])
  • Brochures (marketing)Announcements (public relations)
  • Trade magazine articles and press releases (public relations)
  • Promotional events (public relations)

SEO (Search Engine Optmisation) Writing

SEO writing is the use of strings of words that are popular search engines in web pages, blog posts and online. The goal of SEO writing is to attract web traffic to your business or website by matching the language used in a search.

Examples

  • Embedding keywords into the web address, titles, body and website code
  • Content marketing or producing blogs, video scripts and images with SEO keywords
  • Analysis reports about which SEO keywords are attracting traffic
  • May overlap with online marketing or social media marketing

Journalism

Using research or interviews, examination, and reporting of events, issues and trends to the public

Examples

  • Event coverage
  • Articles for media publications (not press releases)
  • Biographical articles
  • Industry news (not just your company news)

Confusing sign post on Korean hiking trail

So now, you’re confused!?

How do you figure out what type of writing needs to be done?

A good way to start is to create a list of topics, products, services or issues that are important to your business. You’ll notice the most of the topics will tie-in together and your next step is to group these topics. After you have grouped the topics organize the groups by importance or sequence.

When you have the list done, match the writing projects to what the types of writing listed above. Then, hire a writer with the corresponding experience to handle the writing tasks for your business. Many writers can handle multiple types of writing and you may find this type of writer instead specialises in your industry.

An example would be the XYZ Company from our earlier ‘Who Loves You Baby?’ article. The company has decided to create a new website, featuring a blog. Their writing projects would include the following:

 

Business Writing

  • A written business plan describing the way the site will look.
  • A breakdown of what parts of each page would be static or unchangeable (headers, footers, etc.) to the site and what pages would be changeable.
  • Which topics will be covered, the author and the staff member or Subject Matter Expert (SME) for that article
  • A feasibility study of whether or not it would be better to setup and maintain the site internally or have an outside vendor build and maintain the site for your company

Technical Writing

  • Specifications for the site
  • A users guide for those who upload information to the site
  • An administration guide (for the internal person responsible for maintaining the site)
  • A reference guide for the blogger(s) regarding site features, including the policies and procedures for writing the topics for the blog
  • Online help for the site in case of trouble

Marketing & Public Relations Writing

  • Announcements to competitors, customers and employees of the new site
  • Ads created for local and international (if needed) outlets
  • Press releases written and sent to local papers and media outlets
  • Articles written for industry online magazines

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) writing

  • Identifying words and phrases (typically restricted to 12 or fewer popular words) for each web page within the website
  • Working with the web development team to create web addresses (also called URLs, directories or paths) that contain the matching keywords
  • Verifying that the formatting of titles and menus match the keywords being targeted on each page
  • Embedding keywords into the code sitting behind each web page

Plan Around the Type of Writing

All types of writing are geared at providing information and communication about the business’s products and services. If done well, writing provides a clear understanding and a road map for all employees as well as information and communication to your customers and competitors.

Whether you use internal staff or outside writers, plan your writing projects around the type of writing that addresses your relationship with your audience and the goal of your message.

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