“The biggest communications challenge is in getting our work seen.” This wasn’t said to me by a young person starting, or someone in a fledgling firm, but by a leader in a successful international group. “If people see the strength and depth of our work then they will understand,” he said.
But how do we communicate the strength and depth of our work? This is the challenge for everyone, educators, writers, scientists, even for the highly successful whom you would expect to be visual and visible.
Talk about your differences.
You can, and probably should use or choose some of Twitter, blog, Facebook, Google +, Tumblr, and send out press releases (that are revealing of you and your work), and email your newest achievements to clients, associates, and friends (who will stick with you always, and recommend you for years to come!) All of this is part of your living portfolio. Some of it will help.
Six. Every. Day. That’s how many suicides there are in Australia every day. Who are they? For one part of Australian society suicide almost never arose until 30 years ago. Who are they?
I was invited by Anne Summers to write this story about suicide, a topic I would never otherwise have covered. It is difficult and confronting for any of us even to think about it but perhaps by shining more light on the topic it may be possible to ease the great distress that leads many people to contemplate suicide. One person on average dies by suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world. In the US suicide has overtaken motor vehicle accidents.
The image in this story is the cover of Issue 5 of Anne Summers Reports. Please click through to subscribe (it’s free) to read my profile of suicide in Australia. It includes a personal story as well as interviews with Ian Webster, chairman of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council and Dr Diego de Leo, Director of the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University.
Read too about the hope and assistance being given to Australian farmers through Farmers’ Nights Off and Farmers’ Networks and about financial counselling received at right time can steer may help to steer someone away from suicide.
IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE: Suicide Call Back Service (24 hours): 1300 659 467; Lifeline (24 hours): 13 11 14 National Suicide Prevention Strategy Kids Help Line for 5-25-year-olds: 1800 55 1800 Financial counselling beyondblue 1300 22 4636 Sane 1800 18 7263 Farmer Power International Suicide Hotlines
Marian Edmunds (The Writing Business)
Making complex topics clear for all.
Should we take on writing jobs that are painfully complex, dry or draining, and just plain difficult? Or should we run a mile? It depends. If a topic is difficult to the point of being life ruining, then the writer nor the client will end up happy. I weighed up recently whether to work on a feature about suicide for a new magazine. It’s not a cheerful topic, requiring considered interviews, deserving responsible coverage; and journalism offers a terrible rate of return on an hourly rate. Sure, let’s do that. The feature is going through more than one phase of research, interviews and writing.
At The Writing Business we look at each job on its merits. But sometimes we can’t immediately see the merits – such as the opportunity that came up at a PR party at a pub in an Earls Court held to promote Canada’s North Western Territories. There I met a man who led the world in crunching tourism income and costs into something called Tourism Satellite Accounting. It’s a system for how governments and industry measure tourism in the economy. I ended up writing short features and eventually several reports of 7,000 words that explained TSA in terms that officials and directors of tourism could understand and then explain themselves.
My preparation involved reading, comprehending and distilling a complex, and dry-as-crackling methodology and and analysis, as well as interviewing academics, the OECD, tourism officials and government statisticians then turning all of that into a report that was accurate and easily understood. At a global TSA conference delegates gratefully snatched them until they were all gone.
I’ve never made it to Canada’s spectacular North West for a husky ride but from that one chat in the pub I visited Nice, Santiago and Vancouver, all of which led to other experiences and opportunities. It also took me to Canberra where in a meeting at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, I asked for TSA reading recommendations. A few minutes later one of ABS representatives reappeared and handed me a report.
With a smile, I thanked him and said I had written the paper. For a while there I had cornered the market.
Contact us about your writing project and we can assess the challenge.
Do you know the difference between a percentage and a percentage point? It’s the kind of question you’d rather not be asked at a job interview. Luckily, I was prepped by a friend to expect this question at the Financial Times. It was also the only interview where I was asked about my high school math score. It never came up at six previous newspapers, not even at two I edited. It wasn’t something I was keen on talking about having dropped math early, and with my other exam results not being too hot.
I was being interviewed for a position as a contract sub-editor. That wasn’t my long-term goal but I was Australian and didn’t understand yet about the cul-de-sacs, glass ceilings and golden escalators of the FT career edifice. (Later I worked out that life at the FT was what I made it.)
At the time I knew little about world affairs, economics, management or the global tourism and travel sector, or even about writing. I hadn’t studied Economic and Social Policy at the University of London. And I had never thought about percentages and percentage points.
But my friend had advised me well. So when the night editor, IBJ, asked me me about the UK’s biggest company, I was able to say It was ICI (then. Now it’s part of AkzoNobel). Keep in mind there was no Google then.
At the end of the interview, there was one more thing to do. IBJ handed me an editing test and left me in an adjacent office to complete it. The story was about Gatwick Airport. I was stunned when I read it. No, it wasn’t the detritus of errors bobbing about in a pond of lifeless prose. It was because I’d sat the same test elsewhere. I took this as a bonus.
So how did I answer IBJ’s classic question? It came late in the interview at a point where I’d begun to think he might not ask.
Do you know the difference between a percentage and percentage point?
My answer was “Yes.”
He didn’t ask me to explain. On that day I believe a healthy percentage of self-belief prevailed. But I was ready too just in case. It’s an important answer too, because mistaking percentages and percentage points sometimes unintentionally or deliberately obscures the truth.
Percentages explained here.
Marian Edmunds :The Writing Business
Email: Marian at The Writing Business.com
+ 61 (0)411 808 445