8 Nov 2009

Don't forget the 5 Ws and H

The first thing you should know about journalism - or the journalistic method, as we call it for our corporate communications - is the 5 Ws and a H.

Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

I did not even get taught this in journalism school because the professors assumed we knew that every story should answer all these questions.

Sadly, this lesson often does not translate to the business world. It is not that people do not know the basics. They usually do. It is more that writers get lost in a swirl of slogans and catchwords, of corporate values and corporate politics.

I led a news writing workshop a few weeks ago. The participants all had their 5 Ws and a H down perfectly (at least on "straight news" exercises).

Then we took out a couple of internal news articles, and I asked them to highlight the 5 Ws and the H.

Confusion, laughter, a little anger, much resentment and suspicion.

For while the articles stayed on corporate message, they were impossible to follow. A couple of them were impossible to understand. What was the news? Was it there? Or there? Or nowhere?

What was the managment trying to hide?

There is plenty of space for marketing messages and instilling corporate values. There must also be a space for communicating information clearly and simply in a way that people understand and do not resent. You build trust by being straight with people.

And that starts with the basics. With who, what, where, when, why and how.

How many of your articles cover all of them?

Nathan Hegedus

Andra bloggar om: ,

No comments: