Know your audience before writing

Know your audience before writing

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This post I am especially targeting to the beginners who have plans to make their careers in writing. I often tell them that not all writings are same and all forms of writing demand practice and can be honed over a period of time.

Before I write further elaborating on what needs to be done, let’s take up the most important question – What are the different forms of writings?

When we say – different forms, we mean by different writing styles. And, different writing styles are defined by different writing mediums for which content is being written. Different writing mediums have different audiences with different behaviour patterns and varying requirements. When we write for different mediums, we need to have a clear idea of their targeted audiences.

Understand your audience you are writing for

Let’s put it this way, newspaper readers. How do they behave? They are generally in rush, they like to have a quick glance at the latest happenings of the day. Magazine readers are very laid back. They are generally found reading at hotel lobbies, at waiting lounges at the airport or in the airplanes. They are at leisure and have time to flip through the pages and hence the articles are generally very long, sometimes even taking up 3-6 pages too. Web visitors have back button on the tip of their fingers. You need to be direct with them or you would lose them and getting them engaged or provide them what them want at the shortest possible time is the key.

First let’s have a look at different mediums and different writing forms available out there:

MediaSpecific MediumsWriting Forms
PrintNewspapers, Magazines, books, printed marketing collateral – brochures, pamphlets, reportsFeatures, news, opinion pieces, columns, reviews
ElectronicTelevision, RadioScript writing
DigitalWebsitesBlogs on food, travel, tech, lifestyle, business, finance; social media posts, tweets, reviews, news portals, content for affiliate marketing
Different mediums of communications and different forms of writing

Writing tips keeping mediums and their audience in mind

Print: 

You may use a flowery language, start with a suspense, build up on that suspense. There can be a use of jargons, long convulated sentence in print media. Long convulated sentences with more than 20 words have now become a norm, though it goes against the universal standards of writing for print. Publications take this liberty assuming a reader has a privilege in print to go back and read it again if he doesn’t get the idea in the first go.

In print, we assume, a reader has picked a particular magazine or a newspaper because he is truly interested in reading it. Except a news item which is very direct, all other writing forms have a scope to start with a background information and come to a point later.

Electronic:

Electronic media is all about spoken words and visuals. Hence, sentences need to be short and direct. Here, readers do not have an option to go back and listen again. Once it is out of the mouth of a speaker, it is gone in the air forever. One small example of it is in electronics, the name of the designation of a person comes after the name of the person, unlike in print, where designation comes before the name.

 Digital:

Digital has the lowest attention retention rate. Web visitors always have an option to leave your website at a simple click. Hence, give them the information they want instantly. You should prefer to write very direct and give them the information where it is expect it to be. Do not play around with the tabs of your website and their positions very much. Our eyes expect an icon of home at the right side of the task bar, provide them their itself. For contact us, we generally look for extreme right side of the website, mention it there itself.

The headers need to be direct, telling the visitor what the article is about. Do not try to be very creative when it comes to digital, unlike print. Because, you have a strong chances that you would lose your visitor if you attempt to make him guess. Yes, you can build up suspense in your heading, but it has to be too catchy to entice readers to read further. This trick generally works with writing crime related articles.

I hope, you would find above discussion worth reading and will evaluate your reader before writing for a particular medium.

Shilpi Aggarwal has an experience of over 10 years of writing and content strategising handling clients across all mediums of communications. She can be reached at inboxshilpi@gmail.com    

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