Write for the reader
Before we go into the nuts and bolts of our house writing style, let’s consider how to make your writing engaging and relatable. You should begin by thinking about these five key elements:
The purpose Think about your reason, or reasons, for writing. What do you want your written communication to achieve? Do you want to raise awareness, earn trust, give important information or ask your readers to act? Once you know what your purpose is, you’ll be able to gauge how effective your communication is.
The audience When writing, it helps to have an image of the reader in your mind. In most cases your audience will be tenants so it’s likely that you’ll have some insight into what motivates them. Try to call to mind their feelings, likes and dislikes, hopes and fears. Then think about what you can say that will make their lives better, easier or safer (which leads on to the key messages below).
The key messages What messages do you want to get across? Think about three of four important points you want to make and build your content around these messages. When you’re promoting something, think about how it could BENEFIT your audience, rather than how it works i.e. the FEATURES. Concentrate on your reader’s needs, not your own. This should form the basis of your key messages.
Here are some examples:
Gas safety checks
Checking boilers in the home
Support with debt, benefits and budgeting
24-hour emergency support
Tenant volunteers working in the community
Benefit to the reader
Keeping your family safe
Improve your mental wellbeing by taking control of your finances
Peace of mind for you and your family
Make new friends and learn new skills
Creating a good headline can be the trickiest part of your writing task. It needs to be short, snappy and attention grabbing. It might be easier to do this at the end, when you’ve formulated everything you want to say. The headline needs to summarise what the communication is about, but it also needs to make people want to read on.
You might want to focus on one of the benefits you’ve identified as part of your key messaging. Here are some ideas for starting your headline when you’re giving information that could benefit readers:
• Improve your… (something that your reader can change with your help) • Ways to… (advice that could make life easier for your readers) • Do you struggle with… (something your readers might have problems with) • Would you like to… (something your readers might like to do) • Here’s how to… (advice on something that affects your readers)
Call to action
If you want customers to act, perhaps by signing up to something or contacting you, make sure you include a clear ‘call to action’ at the end of your communication. This would be a phone number, email or web address. For social media posts, make sure you include hashtags that are accurate.
By planning your writing you’ll create relatable, engaging content.
Tip: Make information easy for your reader to consume by using subheadings, bullet points and pull out quotes.