This is an excerpt from the twelfth edition of The Write Fit, a fortnightly newsletter about writing, editing and proofreading, content marketing and good editorial practices for business, from Sarah Mitchell and Dan Hatch at Typeset.
Whether you give a toss about the US elections or not, you should pay attention to the result of the Iowa caucuses, the first major contest of the race for president.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure about who won; neither is anyone else.
Iowa changed the way they handle voting this year. They bought in (quite literally) to the promise of technology by investing in a new app to tabulate and report the results. It was thrown together two months before the caucus and wasn’t fit for purpose. The technology was difficult to use, if it worked at all. Some precincts resorted to snail mail to send in their results — a sure-fire way to disappoint everyone expecting to announce a definite winner soon after the voting closed.
Iowa voters are furious. The Democratic candidates are furious. The caucus volunteers are frustrated and unimpressed. The media is weary. Iowa lost a huge opportunity to be in the national spotlight for the right reasons and is suffering a reputation hangover with, well …, everyone.
What has this got to do with writing? Unfortunately, quite a lot.
The Iowa caucus did not follow their normal process for collecting and reporting votes. The company who created the new app rushed to market and didn’t test it adequately, another break in process. Even the precincts who tried to report problems were stymied when the process for handling errors also didn’t work. No-one is taking responsibility for any of it.
Next week Dan and I are releasing our State of Writing 2020 research, so I couldn’t help notice similarities in our results and the Iowa caucus. We found business communicators lack quality control in their writing process and don’t seem too concerned about it.
The biggest gaps in quality occurred in fact-checking and editing for logic and flow – two processes with a direct impact on whether your readers trust what you’re saying. It surprised us to find out only 31% of moderately effective business communicators want to improve the quality/accuracy of their writing.
We’re releasing all the results next Wednesday, so look for a special edition of The Write Fit in your inbox.
Let’s face it; poor writing processes or a break in your normal procedures probably won’t cause Iowa-sized problems for your business. But if your writing produces unexpected results due to quality issues, it might be all your customers need to look somewhere else.
Before we go, I did a little fact-checking on the famous Bette Davis quote, “Buckle up; we’re in for a bumpy ride.” She never said it. She actually said, “Fasten your seatbelts; we’re in for a bumpy night.” Iowa knows a thing or two about that.
Dan and I would love to hear from you. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you do to ensure you’re getting the outcomes your business needs from your writing efforts.
12 February 2020
The above is just one small part of our fortnightly newsletter. It’s jam-packed with excellent advice, tips and news for anyone who writes for their business. Get your own copy here: