Bus. comm: r u ok?

by Rich Bradley on April 13, 2010

I got into an interesting discussion with my co-host, Josh Chandler, on a recent radio show. The discussion started with another host, Jason Sanders, asked me a rather innocent question — how important is writing to a business?

As a former writer, newspaper editor and public relations specialist, nearly all of my post-college experience has dealt with the written word. I know how important writing an be for a business, whether it’s a press release, an advertisement or instructions on how to use or assemble a new product.

Josh, however, disagreed. He stated that in today’s world, he believes that formal writing isn’t that important. He backed up his statement that with the advent of Twitter, Facebook and the like, the ability to be present and to communicate quickly, was more important.

It was a classic generation gap. Josh is 23; I’m 48.

For his generation, which grew up in a world that never knew life without the internet and phones that did more than simply make calls, the “formalness” of writing isn’t important. Instead, the ability to say what you want to say in 140 characters or less (the world of Twitter) is the way to communicate. Grammar, spelling and all else be damned — too wordy, too stuffy, too “old.”

And that’s ok — if you only communicate with people under the age of 25 (or so) and in a non-professional setting. I still believe that good writing — like a cover letter, resume, press release, newspaper and magazine articles — have their places. And if you want to communicate with some of the more traditional business that rely on the written word — banks and lawyers come immediately to mind — you better be prepared to play by their rules.

Maybe one day, Josh’s generation will change everything. Maybe lawsuits will be filed and settled in 140 characters or less. Maybe you’ll be able to  e-mail your business plan via video to your banker. Maybe one day you’ll be able to just hit “ok” on a keypad to get a mortgage or buy a car, and not bother with all those messy forms and notaries and lawyers and insurance people.

But until that day arrives — and my belief is that it’s a long, long way away — the written word will still have a purpose.

Even if it’s just to write a blog about how important the written word is.

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