I’m in decluttering mode these days, both in my physical and electronic environments. Going through some old stuff last week, I found this October 2003 post by Ann Wylie of Rev Up Readership, and I thought it might give you food for thought. Here it is.
Bad writing costs company ‘hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars’
I was having lunch with the vice president of corporate communications at a California-based Fortune 500 company, when the topic of bad writing came up. He detailed the problems his company was having because so many communicators struggled with their writing skills. Among the problems he mentioned:
The VP spent one-quarter of his time rewriting copy instead of focusing on communications strategy.
Employees didn’t receive and act on key messages because they didn’t read employee newsletters and intranet stories. The result: employees didn’t support — or sometimes even know about — corporate initiatives. Press coverage was mediocre because news releases were mediocre.
“What’s all this costing your company?” I asked.
“Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said, “in lost productivity, lost opportunities and wasted executive time.”
I’ve been banging this drum — lost profits through rotten writing — for years. Back in 1993 I wrote a business fable called The Hidden Profit Center: a tale of profits lost and found through communication. Wylie wrote this article 14 years ago, and too many business people — including accountants — still haven’t learned the lesson.
I just finished a special report called A Business Case for Better Writing by Accountants. It’s so new I haven’t even put it up on my website yet, but if you’d like a copy just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll email you a copy.
This is important, folks. Can you afford the business consequences of poor writing?