If you take the time to write something, you obviously want someone to read it. Ben Feller, a former White House correspondent and current media strategist at Mercury, an international communications consultancy, realizes the importance of crafting inviting pieces that resonate with readers. “Your readers want to be informed and engaged no matter whether the piece in question is 400 or 4,000 words,” Feller says. “If the story does not meet those standards, they will simply move on to something else.”

The 20-year veteran of journalism and nationally honored writer now advises those at for-profit and nonprofit organizations on powerful storytelling. “The two most essential elements are accuracy and focus,” Feller says. He shares his top tips for writing clearly, concisely and in a way that truly moves your intended audience.

  • Define a clear mission that informs your piece. “Write it in one sentence at the top of your screen if that helps,” Feller says.
  • Avoid jargon. “Describe your topics in the words people actually use in their daily lives,” Feller says. “It doesn't matter if you're writing for an insider audience. Your job is to explain.”
  • Get to the point, and omit “filler language” that detracts from the piece.
  • Reread your work every time. “Ask yourself: Can my writing be tighter or cleaner?” Feller says. “Push yourself, because your reader deserves it.”
  • Show your readers why they should care. “Do not finish until you have sought the answer to the question, ‘How does this topic affect them?’”
  • Choose an opening sentence that commands attention. “Capture your point in language that is punchy and compelling,” Feller says.
  • Create an inviting package. “Don't forget about what surrounds your writing such as headlines, photo captions and images,” Feller says. “These components all work together to pull people into the story.”
  • Keep a consistent voice by defining the tone you want to take, such as explanatory, analytical, lighthearted and so on, and integrating it throughout.
  • Don't forget the context. “You, as the writer, know the background on the issue about which you are writing, as well as the knowledge of why certain developments are more important than others,” Feller says. “The reader often does not have that context, and it is your job to include it.”
  • Keep it fresh. “Some assignments come up annually, and the temptation is to update the version you wrote last year,” Feller says. “Never just ‘mail it in.’ The reader deserves your best effort, even if you have covered the same topics for years.”
  • Remember, short writing is just as important as long-form writing. “Hold all writing in high regard, and set high standards of excellence every time,” Feller says.

Source: Ben Feller, Media Strategist and Award-Winning Writer, Mercury LLC, New York, NY. Phone (212) 681-1380. E-mail: bfeller@mercuryllc.com. Website: www.mercuryllc.com