Training staff in business writing: not a hit-and-run project

Seniors learning digital writing skills
Training staff to write well is not a one-off project for new intranet: it should be business as usual. Business writing skills need to be regularly updated and refined, and spread around the entire staff.

Sure, Strunk & White taught the unchanging essentials of clear writing in 1918, but they did not have to cope with social intranets, search engines and content management systems. Moreover, in the olden days writing was a specialized skill. You could pay someone to write your letters—they were called secretaries, and they used typewriters. Today, digital writing skills are essential in almost every job.

You know that, but you have to deal with clients and managers who don't.

ICT project-based training: hit and run scenario

  1. Organization gets a new social intranet, CMS or Sharepoint site.
  2. Numerous staff start writing content.
  3. Quantity of content increases—but quality drops.
  4. A minority of staff writers gets specialist, customized training.
  5. The majority of writers have no common skills or standards.
  6. The trained staff writers move, leave, or feel isolated.
  7. Patchy results: no enterprise-wide improvement.

Business-as-usual training: broader goals, better results

  1. Managers understand that most professional staff write content every day.
  2. Managers understand that clear, usable, readable, accessible content is a major business asset.
  3. An on-going, enterprise-wide, cost-effective training solution is found.
  4. Enough staff are trained for writing standards to reach a tipping point.
  5. Year-round refresher training is made available for all staff who need it.
  6. High quality content becomes the norm.
  7. Enterprise search and the CMS work as they should.

Our clients are very smart. They use a one-off training opportunity as a route to long-term enterprise development training. And so they make a difference.

Most choose Contented training the first time for an intranet or web project, and then quietly re-order for another group of staff, then another group, then another... With Contented they can train enough writers, not just a handful, and stay on budget. Little by little they are shifting their organizations from project-based training to business-as-usual training. They know this is the way to improve all business writing across the board, without breaking the bank.

Image of seniors learning digital writing skills (c)

Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine


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