What do you get when you assemble a writer, an editor and a digital manager to talk about writing well in the emoji era? A lot smarter.
Peter Baniak, vice president and editor for the Lexington Herald-Leader, Liz Bazner, digital manager for A&W Restaurants, and Neil Chethik, author and executive director of the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, shared a number of excellent insights during the Thoroughbred Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America panel discussion, which I moderated.
Here are some of their insights:
- Mobile now dominates. Content needs to be written to conform to this format–tighter, shorter, more vibrant. For literacy educators, the mobile era means teaching young people how to relate to mentors for an hour or so instead of their mobile devices, which can be difficult.
- Standards vary by organization. A&W lives by its brand, meaning content must be consistent with the brand voice regardless of who is writing. The Herald-Leader has columnists with varied voices, so for these writers the focus is on individual consistency. The news outlet recently set a standard of keeping headlines at a mere 75 characters. The Carnegie Center is learning to look the other way to accept less formal writing in social media.
- These writers’ pet peeves include texting shortcuts (u r instead of you are, for example), writing in passive voice, and not getting to the point.
- Blogs are less important than they were a few years ago. More focus is on social media. Instagram and Snapchat are very popular at the moment with younger audiences.
- Video, of course, is hugely popular, as are memes and photos of all types.
Speaking of video, here is a link to a segment of the presentation: Writing Well in the Emoji Era.
I believe clarity matters, which is why using proper grammar and punctuation are important to me and why I assembled this group for our professional development meeting. We all make mistakes and have bad habits, but we should strive to know and apply the rules most of the time. That makes those occasions in which we purposefully break the rules more effective.
Ain’t that right?