Poor Business Writing Cost Billions

by Cathy Miller on April 29, 2010

Pencil-rising costsRecently, I came across a pretty startling statistic. A survey of 120 major American corporations estimated firms spent $3.1 billion on employee deficiencies in business writing.

The survey reported that two-thirds or more of salaried employees had some responsibility for business writing. Conducted by the National Commission on Writing, the survey occurred in September 2004.

I wonder how much has changed since then.

Social Media – A New Spin on Business Writing

With the explosion of social media, business writing has taken on new meaning. In addition to the traditional business memos, reports and marketing, we now have blogging, microblogging and fan pages as new venues for business writing and promotion.

The recently released 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report had some interesting findings. It reports on how businesses are using social media and the changing trends in the industry. Here are two of the emerging trends:

  • 91 percent of marketers use social media for marketing
  • 81 percent of marketers plan on an increased use of blogs

It seems like everything has gone viral. Even if your organization does not participate in social media, there is no guarantee that your business writing will not end up somewhere in the social media stratosphere.

What Would it Cost Today?

The $3.1 billion estimated in the 2004 report was for writing training for employees. One can only speculate what the cost would be today, especially when factoring in damages to brand reputation from poor business writing.

The following are tips for improving your company’s business writing:

  1. Provide training – The solution identified in the 2004 report is not outdated. Business writing courses come in all shapes and sizes from online to live workshops. The money spent on training can be a good investment, especially when considering the hours lost on editing and responding to questions from poorly written communication.
  2. Internal review Develop a process for internal review of business writing. If possible, divide the tasks so one person reviews for typographical, grammatical and spelling errors and another person checks the technical accuracy. You cannot proofread too many times – particularly with online writing, where errors are common.
  3. Outsource – In today’s ailing economy, productivity is the buzzword of the day. More businesses outsource various functions. Hiring an independent business writer is an effective use of resources and provides the necessary business writing skills. In an earlier post, I provided some tips for finding the right business writer. Another option is outsourcing copyediting for the professional review of business writing communication.

Perhaps today more than ever, the importance of business writing cannot be overstated. The world is full of potential customers, just waiting to spread your word – or your business writing blunders. Protect against poor business writing. Believe in your business – it shows.

If you enjoyed this post, please share. Thank you!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookPrint this page

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: