BLOG 11th September 2017

Find it hard to write about what you do? 5 ways to improve your cultural writing

Last week, Richard Spencer from copy writing agency A Thousand Monkeys presented to over thirty arts and cultural organisations at our free Mind Your Language workshop.

Here are a few tips we picked up during the day.

1. Don’t Write Anything

It seems counterintuitive – but not writing is the first step to great writing. Clear thinking leads to clear writing, so brainstorm and plan exactly what you want your writing to achieve and what you will include.

Make sure you know who you are writing to (your target audience persona) and why (what do you want them to do?).

2. Ditch the Jargon

Who hasn’t been frustrated by the use of unnecessary jargon? Be it ‘corporate-speak’ or overly complicated IT instructions – we all appreciate writing that is clear and to the point. The same goes for writing about arts and culture. Often, a fear of ‘dumbing down’ material results in copy that is inaccessible and unappealing for potential audience members. In truth, clear and effective copy captures the essence of a cultural event, without the need for jargon or insider-knowledge. Take a look at your writing – could an intelligent person without a background in arts and culture understand it? If not, it could probably do with a re-write.

One handy way of checking this is to ask a friend or family-member who isn’t an expert in the area to check some examples.

Mind Your Language pledgeThe signing of our anti-jargon pledge!

3. Use Free Tools to Proofread your Writing

Free apps such as Grammarly, Hemingway, and Writer’s Diet can help you to see where you can clarify and streamline your writing. The goal is to get your point across with as little text as possible.

4. Think Visually

When first looking at a piece of printed or screen-based information, the viewer tends to skim over the text, picking out only key headings, and focusing mainly on images and colour.

Add plenty of headings, bullet points, graphs or imagery to convey your message. Aim for around 50% or more of your message to be communicated visually.

Keep a collection of brochures and advertisements for other venues and events that are visually appealing to you. Ask yourself – “why they are so effective?” If there are any approaches you can borrow – do!

5. Find Your Voice

Think about your organisation’s branding, and your target market. What kind of personality should show through in your writing? For example, an organisation providing drama classes for kids will have a very different voice than a museum focused on military history.

Have a chat with your colleagues about what your organisation’s voice is. Develop some do’s and don’ts for your organisation. Is it okay to use slang? How about emojis?

PS – Finding it Difficult?

If you don’t know who your target audience are, or are having trouble identifying your unique benefits and selling points – book in for a free one-to-one chat with us at our Audience Appointments.

Maurane Ramon

Head of Client Development

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