Be Specific. First, what do we want our writing to do? We write because we have goal in mind, and want to utilize the power of voice to reach that. If we’re not intentionally specific, chances are the writing won’t carry the impact we’d like it to.
Know Your Intended Audience. The next often skipped step is to think carefully about the intended audience. I don’t just mean, “I want my customers to read,” but to examine who your customers are. What group or groups of people are you targeting? This is a truly important, because if we fail to really think about who we want reading our material, and what appeals to them, we aren’t going to speak to them through that piece, address their informational needs, or connect with the reader emotionally.
Research Your Industry. Third, most people writing about their business, products, or services skip over research. Regardless of what you’re penning, chances are there’s research you can engage in, even if it’s checking out what the competition is currently publishing, what similar types of content exist in your industry, etc. You might need to look at SEO and see which key word combinations possess a higher yield with your client base, or perhaps you need to look closer at your client’s needs, wants, and interests.
Plan Your Presentation. After organizing our information, and outlining the piece, many people simply start writing, putting things together however they can to make them fit. It’s actually more helpful to think about layout before you start writing. What size piece are you publishing, and in what media (print or online)? What parts of your text need graphic or image support? It’s important to remember the value of white space – over filled anything is a cause for sore eyes. Thinking about your reader and their need for cognitive breaks and eye rest will make it more likely that they hang on your every word.
Be Clear, Concise and Compelling. Our written message needs to be easily and immediately understandable to our reading audience. We want to say our piece with strength and conviction, but in as few words as possible without shortchanging the message. Finally, we want to incite our reader to action, whether it’s to persuade them to buy a product, compel them to laughter, or convince them to agree with a position.
Keeping these 5 tips in mind, your writing will impress, engage, and ultimately achieve its intended goal.
Happy writing; may the ink flow with you!
Defrag, a tech conference held each fall at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Colorado recently met for its sixth annual event. Bringing keynote speakers, CxOs, entrepreneurs and the tech minded, data driven together, what big ideas arose in 2012? Big Data and Social Business, of course.
Far from surprising, given that Defrag organizers Eric Norlin, Brad Feld, and Phil Becker began Defrag from their collective desire to discuss the innovative software and technological tools needed to sift through and analyze the mounting avalanche of information. The very nature of data, as evidenced by the descriptions and discussions of notable keynote presenters such as Kevin Kelly and Paul Kedrosky, has evolved, and continues to evolve, at an exponential pace. In similar fashion, so has the imperative for businesses, from the gargantuan to small start up, to utilize that data.
In the past, utilization prompted faint images or ideas of algorithms designed to sort, classify, and analyze data for application in finite areas such as product design and consumer relations – something the IT guys (and gals) could worry about. As evidenced by many of the keynote speakers, data utilization and our conception of it must undergo an evolution as well. An evolution that transforms not only how we think about data, but how we think about the role of data within business. True, meaningful utilization takes companies through the growing pains of becoming authentically social – not just in finite pockets of the infrastructure, but across all inter and intrapersonal relationships and interactions within the organization.
As pointed out by Dion Hinchcliffe in his keynote address, those few businesses that grasp the importance of this evolution, progressing from a corporation with a limited social presence to a unified business ecosystem that strategically uses social media, exhibit both phenomenal growth and resiliency despite current economic trends. Burberry and Intuit transformed their infrastructure, adopting the social business model both internally and externally, and the growth of these companies herald the success of this endeavor. Burberry increased its bottom line 21% and Intuit went from a distant #2 to #1 in their industry. Despite these successes, the majority of businesses fail to utilize social media strategically. Hinchcliffe asserts that engagement with the consumer is key, and that for today’s companies, adopting a social business model is imperative. Social business is global, allows organizations to drive business outcomes to scale, and activates stakeholders and advocates.
Other speakers touched on the importance of developing as a social business, circling back to the conundrum of big data and how organizations sort, analyze and apply information gleaned from big data, especially when attempting to do so from the paradigm of becoming a Social Business. Historically, we’ve used simple machine logic and predefined algorithms that essentially tell the computer how to sort data, and look for patterns afterwards. Elliot Turner, in his keynote address, discussed the importance of avoiding potential pitfalls created by assuming we know anything about the data. Rather than providing predefined assumptions about the data, what happens when we let the system sort through data and search for patterns on its own? The results of this deep unsupervised learning prove surprising, and suggest the need for a better understanding of the importance of what data can tell us, about our consumers, as well our business practices and work flow, when unfettered by what we think we know.
Nitin Mayande, a conference attendee favorite, added to the discussion by addressing our conceptualization of time. Scientifically, we view time as a linear tool used for measurement. In social sciences, we perceive time as a social construct and inherently qualitative – time can be well spent or wasted. Moving into social analytics, time becomes a mental construct that allows us to experience, while from a metaphysical viewpoint, we are time – it does not exist outside of us, and our relationship to future is relative. Manyande’s point regarding time applies to the time and space in which consumers use social media. The virtual world provides a social culture and atmosphere in which social media interactions, which create data, take place. Nitin brilliantly points out that the fundamental assumptions made in the real world cannot be taken for granted in the virtual world. Culture and the concept of time have different meanings, as yet undefined, in the virtual world. This talk served to highlight the assumptions we make about not only the data collected, but the validity of long held assumptions regarding virtual users and data creation. Before social metric analysis proceeds much further, Mayande suggest the need to look closer at how we perceive data and choose to analyze it is paramount.
In the end, the big ideas of big data and social business not only consumed two entire days and sent conference attendees packing with overstuffed neurons and important ponderings, they serve to highlight areas of consideration imperative to future business growth, resiliency, and success. The speed of information flow, size of Mount Data, and desire of consumers to take part in the business relationship will continue to increase. The convergence of social media and mobile technology, and ongoing improvements in both, assure that. As the discussion continues, the need for novel ideas and innovative approaches to the dual conundrum of dealing with data and adopting the social business model could not be greater. For any readers with a burning desire to participate in that dialogue, be sure to look for the Defrag speakers interviewed on w3w3, search twitter for #defrag2012 to connect with this year’s presenters, and join us next year at Defrag 2013
Written by Kirsten Nelson
Registered Nurse, BSN
MA Educational Psychology
Startup Colorado Public Launch
Winning the Future through Open Innovation
Aneesh Chopra, White House Chief Technology Officer (CTO), visited the Defrag Conference, www.defragcon.com/2011/ and the Startup Colorado Public Launch, www.silicon-flatirons.org/events.php?id=1042 to talk about recently unveiled initiatives targeted towards entrepreneurs and innovators in his keynote address entitled Winning the Future through Open Innovation. In an historic and groundbreaking approach to our nation’s most pressing problems, these initiatives seek to tap into the creative genius and solutions oriented focus demonstrated by those with the entrepreneurial spirit in an effort to “invent our way out” of some of the greatest dilemmas ever faced by our nation. Chief among these programs, a number of public – private partnerships arose from the push for bottom up change. Several regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, hope to benefit from the success and experience of entrepreneurs and CEOs through entrepreneurships in residences, and numerous contests have opened to the public designed to tap into innovative solutions.
Announcements of novel, low cost, technology based solutions suggest success and significant positive movement within an atmosphere of openness, transparency, and collaboration. On Monday, November 7, 2011, the Veteran’s Job bank went live just 90 days after program conception. The job bank seeks to answer the challenge issued in August 2011 to hire 100,000 returning veterans, and does so in a manner that brings the job to the veterans, in their locale. Through open innovation and collaboration, Google, Bing, and Yahoo created www.schema.org , a jointly designed job-listing schema, which they in turn brought to the job search industry. SimplyHired and other job search vendors quickly jumped on board with the program, adding tags to jobs committed for veteran employment. The job schema search engine crawls the web looking for veteran tagged jobs, allowing the end user, returning vets, to access jobs through a simple front end interface located at https://www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov/jobSearch/index.
In August, the FDA announced its entrepreneur in residence program. Seasoned entrepreneurs in the medical industry, such as the former CEO of Medtronic, who have successfully navigated FDA’s regulatory process, will help identify and implement ways for the FDA and small businesses to work together in researching, developing, and bringing new medical products and treatments to the marketplace both quickly and safely. These experienced CEOs will train FDA staff on how to engage and network with small businesses, and help the FDA more fully understand the challenges small businesses face, and the importance of timely communications during the review and approval process.
Similar initiatives are underway in numerous areas seeking to rely on the expertise of Americans for innovation and a better, faster way to address exponentially growing needs in energy, health, education, open manufacturing platforms, and a desire to spark new products and services. Through an initiative to open energy data to innovation, utilities across the nation agreed on Green Button apps for environment that allow consumers to download and view energy consumption in one hour increments. On Tuesday, November 8, 2011, an $8 million competition opened in which 12 communities across the nation can pledge their commitment to use Green Button apps to improve their eco footprint in return for eligibility for a $2 million dollar prize. Data on the environment released the same day the competition opened through Apps for Environment available at www.energy.data.gov
In education, innovation led to the launch of the www.LearningRegistry.org This tagging system allows users to discover quality content with identified links to Common Core Standards, utilization stats, and author history, and allows tracking of content via news feeds. Solution oriented apps and APIs seek to solve health care issues through open health data initiatives. One example, iTriage, a mobile look up service, empowers consumers to make positive health and life style choices and connects patients to area providers via a symptom lookup feature. Started by two emergency room physicians in Denver, CO in 2008, the company generated over 76,000 consumer health referrals in its first year of operations. www.itriagehealth.com .
Clearly greater innovation and ongoing public-private partnerships are necessary to continue inroads into these pressing problems, and interested innovators, inventors, etc. can go to www.challenge.gov to submit ideas, apps and APIs, as well as check out ongoing and new contests for ideas and solutions. Finally, in an effort to spark new products and services by building entrepreneurial communities across the Front Range, Startup America launched Startup Colorado on November 9th. This regional initiative seeks to spur new company creation and foster success through community, collaboration and mentorship. To read more about Startup America, visit www.startupamericapartnership.org/ or go to http://co.startupamericapartnership.org/ to learn more about Startup Colorado.
A two part video of Aneesh Chopra's Closing Address at the Startup Colorado Launch at the Silicon Flatirons Center,
Wolf Law Building at CU-Boulder, can be viewed on YouTube by following these links: