If you have many people sending emails, writing letters or developing proposals, it may be time for your company to develop a style guide. What is a style guide? It is a multi-page document that standardizes your employees’ use of grammar and style. It helps a company ensure their documents look professional and conform to your company’s “brand.” Why pay someone all that money to develop a logo, a theme and your website then not link your written communications to that brand?
The first few pages of a style guide are normally devoted to standard punctuation, grammar and capitalization styles. Then in-depth information follows to address style and presentation matters. For example, how often do your employees use a hyphenated term like “workers’ compensation”? Or is it “worker’s compensation”? Heaven forbid, they use “workman’s compensation.” Or what about hyphenated words, like “Call our toll-free number”? If you consider all the words and phrases normally used in your business communications, you can see that a style guide helps you develop consistency in your communications.
How do you develop a style guide? First, ask your insurance carriers if they have one developed that you can adopt for your agency. That may make the most sense. If not, put together a committee of a few good writers in your organization and let them do the work. There are many style-guide recommendations on the web found easily with a web search. Then look at some of your most frequently developed documents, both internal and external, to determine the phrases you use most frequently.
Alternatively, you can hire an editor to develop one for you. You can always ask them to provide their best recommendations and tweak them for your organization. If you would like to discuss this or other copywriting issues, don’t hesitate to contact me.