for a strong, fast pick-me-up
I’ll be upfront with you. I love working with business people who are rugby union fans – AND I’d love to help out rugby writers/sports networks that cover union (in small areas where they can lift their game).
I’m from a league background – and I’m still learning about the more complex union rules. One thing I DO know is the rules of writing – especially the changing rules and evolving style for the “modern game” of business communication.
One of the great things about working with business people who enjoy union is that they appreciate the need the get the “little things” correct. From my experience at least, business people who appreciate union seem to respect people who have roles of ensuring quality and compliance.
In between watching the big games, I’m an avid fan of union writing – especially all the union analysis and commentary on Fox Sports.
Here’s a writing lesson, we can all learn from about consistency.
The post was inspired by my usual morning read of Fox Sports rugby stories. This post is not to criticize – but to use as a perfect visual example of the need for consistency.
As you probably know – one of the great strengths of the All Blacks is CONSISTENCY!
Now should it be All Blacks OR All-Blacks?
As you can see in the photo I snapped – there’s blatant inconsistency in how different people write All Blacks – two separate words or a combined expression joined by a hyphen.
There’s actually three references to All Blacks – in the story itself, in the video “caption/title” and on the “telecast scoreboard”.
I suspect one person wrote the article and another person wrote the “caption” for the video.
I prefer All Blacks as two separate words – however the more modern trend is to combine compound nouns and compound modifiers with hyphens.
My advice to businesses – pick a style and make sure people/writers within the business know the “house style”.
Top organisations around the world go to the trouble of creating their own Style Guides. Sometimes I get to help organisations create style guides tailored for their industry sector – e.g. IT, Insurance, Law.
I recommend to businesses:
1. Find the most common expressions you need to write – and make it clear how to write those expressions consistently. For example, in Rugby Union writing you’d expect a common expression to be All Blacks.
2. Even let outside experts/writers/commentators know the house style or at least let them know that editors will adjust writing to the house style.
3. No Prima Donnas allowed – writers at all levels within a business need to now what’s expected of them.
4. Think of your audience and what will help the majority of readers in your audience “feel comfortable” in reading.
5. Appoint a methodical person to check for consistency before material “goes out”. From my experience, more mature workers often have the patience and the “eye” to check for consistency.
I love how union has its specialist expert helpers – e.g. scrum coaches, lineout coaches, forwards coaches, back coaches.
People in a team (and not just the players) usually defer to the specialists with specialist knowledge.
When I train business people who are union fans, I often get questions such as:
1. Should it be Australia IS or Australia ARE?
2. Should it be Wallabies’ (with a possessive apostrophe) or just Wallabies?
Lots of smart senior business people often want answers to these sorts of questions.
Anyway, the purpose of this post is to encourage consistency in how you write common expressions.
You need a “playbook” of how to write common terms.
You also need to be careful when you combine content or copy written by different people who may have different personal styles (based on how and when they were taught).
Remember your organisation’s writing is being judged by readers – and one thing readers judge you on is – consistency!
If you are a business presenter OR sports person or sports official or commentator/writer and you’d like to improve your presenting or writing – I’d love to help. If you are a Rugby fan, we will get on famously. If you are from a different sport and not a Rugby fan – I will do my best to use sporting examples YOU can enjoy and relate to.
In my journalism career, the most impressive sportspeople/ sports spokespeople I ever worked with were from Rugby Union and swimming and some tennis stars. Very professional communicators!
Some organisations realize their people need to improve their communication skills – and I’ve been privileged to have worked with and learned from many great sports people. One thing I am impressed by is their willingness to practise and put in the work/preparation and to take media appearances/presentations seriously.