For many of us during this pandemic-work-from-home-jammies-24/7 we’ve probably lost a bit of our style. But style is a must when it comes to clean, professional quality content marketing.
If you confuse “House Style” with Cindy Crawford’s show in the 90s, “House of Style,” then read on.
If you’ve ever written a paper in college, chances are you were told to follow style guidelines, either APA, Chicago, or MLA. These were parameters and guidelines concerning things like punctuation, abbreviations, and most importantly, citations.
As a journalism student, one of my first book purchases was the “Associated Press Stylebook.” Literally, the bible of all thing’s journalism related. In these pages was instruction on how to refer to everything from acronyms to proper quotation mark placement. To this day, AP Style is ingrained in my mind – it’s how I naturally write. But there are times when writing for a client means adopting their House Style.
Why You Need a House Style in Your Marketing
Your content will appear more professional (even if you’re not a great writer) when it’s delivered in a consistent style. Things like spelling out numerals vs numbers, inconsistent capitalization, and other details within the same piece may seem minor, but they can be noticeable and distracting. A slapped-together article or email will be noticed by a savvy reader and then…a seed of doubt is planted. Hmm, if they can’t get that right, what other details do they overlook?
While it sounds like nit-picking, having a House Style is a great time-saver. Each time you create content, you’ll already know how to refer to something instead of questioning or polling the office every time.
House Style keeps things in alignment. Much like your company or personal branding guide, establishing a House Style (or just adopting AP Style) keeps everyone in the organization on the same page. Putting together a style guide for your organization can be as simple as determining identifiers, William R. Smith vs Bill Smith, pronoun preference, or proper names of departments.
Where do you start?
Unless your audience is in the medical field, there’s no need to adopt APA style. AP style is the most prevalent in printed publications and news delivered online.
There are a lot of great resources to keep close for reference. The AP Stylebook is available in print and online. William Strunk and E.B. White’s “The Elements of Style” is a handy little book packed with guidance on concise writing. (confession, I edited that sentence a couple times, because, well…pressure to be concise.)
My favorite tip: DO NOT OVERWRITE.
I’ll stop right there.
My holiday greeting for 2020
There are conflicting ideas out there in business land. One says work and business shouldn’t slow down during those hazy two weeks of Christmas and New Year. “Don’t let off the gas! Keep pushing!”
The other, and my preference, is the idea of slowing down, taking time to reflect, and being with those you love. While business has been anything but normal for most of us this year, it’s still important to our psyche to take a break. And why are we in business anyway? It’s difficult to hug your dollars on Christmas morning.
I hope you will savor the coming days and holiday season, even if it’s not like one before. There are still more good people in the world than evil, and while we can’t control outside events, we can control our response and attitude toward it.
Thank you so much for your connection and readership this year. May you have a Merry Christmas and Prosperous, Healthy, and Safe New Year.