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Writing for Economic Development: How to Get Your Words Noticed

Writing for Economic Development
Writing for Economic Development

So, you’ve got a killer region that you want to pitch to potential companies in your target sectors. You’ve got your list of benefits all queued up and you’re ready to write some email nurturing campaigns. Or social media posts. Or a news article.

One problem, though. You may have noticed that the web’s a bit…crowded at the moment. Lots of people talking about their own regions, their own workforce, their own everything.

How do you get your work to rise to the top and get noticed at the right moment?

You get a little help from the tips in this article! And make sure to read it all, cause we’ve included a few doozies to help you incorporate OpenAI’s new tool ChatGPT into your workflow. You’ll never have to deal with a blank page again.

How you say it is as important as what you say

While the content of your work is crucial, your technical writing skills are what determine how easy your next article or email is to read. So we’ve got some quick tips for you when you’re crafting your masterpiece:

  • Ditch the adjective-verb combo in favor of descriptive verbs. English is full of highly specific action words. For example, instead of “ran quickly,” write “sprinted.” Instead of “cut deep,” write “gouged.” It’ll shorten your prose and make it more expressive. (Check out this link for a quick-reference guide to some great descriptive verbs.)
  • Stop explicitly directing your reader. Lose phrases like “You need to…”, “you should,” and “you can.” A sentence like “You need to check out the benefits [YOUR REGION] can offer your software firm,” looks much better (and simpler) if you just write, “Check out what we can offer your tech company in [YOUR REGION].”
  • Ditch vague attributions like, “Companies say they need”, instead cite your claims specifically and accurately, “So and so [report] stated that these factors matter most when selected a location
  • Use industry terms and phrases suitable for your audience. For example, no one in the tech industry needs to know that AI stands for “artificial intelligence.” They already know that. Using appropriate acronyms and jargon demonstrates your knowledge of your audience’s industry and helps to keep things concise.
  • 😲 Use emojis to liven up professional copy. New, inclusive, and varied emojis work great in an email subject line or social media post to help create a more human feel.
  • Try using unusual or idiosyncratic terms in your writing. Nothing too crazy and not too often, though. Just sprinkle in a few words your reader probably hasn’t seen in a while that you like to use on occasion. It’ll make your writing more memorable.
  • Oh, and before you hit “Submit,” make sure you read your copy at least once out loud to yourself. You’ll identify problem spots much more easily this way.

Another great resource for copywriting tips is the great Ann Handley (whom a few of these tips are inspired by).

ChatGPT: There’s no excuse for writer’s block anymore

We know. This last heading is a bold statement. But after we gave OpenAI’s ChatGPT a spin, we were hooked. In case you haven’t become acquainted with this latest marvel of AI, ChatGPT is an extremely lifelike natural language chatbot.

What does this have to do with writer’s block?

Well, ChatGPT is amazing to use as a writing prompt. Check out what it did when we asked it to create an email to an AI company about expanding to Montreal:

By learning to use the tool, you can ask ChatGPT to change the tone and be more creative.

Now, you’ve gotta be really careful about how you use the information you get from ChatGPT. It has a problem with factual accuracy (ie. it’s not that accurate) and its natural tone of voice is pretty dry if you don’t prompt it properly. So, you don’t want to go copying-and-pasting what you generate with this tool into your next email.

But asking ChatGPT a question or two is a fantastic way to cure “blank page syndrome.” Just ask it a question or even ask it to “brainstorm” with you about your particular subject and your own creativity will be flowing in no time.

ChatGPT for Econmic Developers: Even more uses for AI

We could go on at length about all the things you can do with ChatGPT. In fact, it’s got a whole back-end you can use to generate prose for almost any imaginable use-case. But we’ll leave you with just a few tips to whet your appetite for this powerful tool:

  • Ask ChatGPT to “generate an outline for an article about topic X.” Boom. You’ve got a quick-and-dirty outline you’re free to adjust and improve.
  • Ask ChatGPT to shorten some landing page copy, add bullets to an email you’ve written, or even change the tone of a social media post. Basically, you can mix and match any type of copy with any type of instructions to generate an infinite number of options for this tool
  • Ask ChatGPT to describe a topic you’re unfamiliar with. It’ll almost certainly generate a bunch of info you can use as leads for your own research. (But, remember, don’t take ChatGPT at its word! It’s got a bit of a truthiness problem!)
  • Ask ChatGPT to re-write a lead generation email once you’ve completed the first draft. You’ll get a totally new perspective on what you’ve written. You don’t have to use what it generates, but it’ll undoubtedly give you some great ideas on rewording at least a few parts of your work.

  • Use detailed prompts to generate the exact type of copy you want. You can use all sorts of instructions to tailor the output to your liking. For example, you can tell it:
    • To “Generate an email using the P-A-S framework”
    • “I’m a Marketing Manager. Write an email subject line for me for an email that encourages tech companies to move to [YOUR REGION] .”
    • To “Generate a compelling call to action at the end of this Facebook post…”
    • To “Generate a unique selling proposition (USP) that I can use on Twitter from this information…”
    • You can even ask it to identify problems and pain points your audience might have!

Speech mirroring

Take advantage of every opportunity you have to speak to your target audience and make note of how they discuss expansion decisions. Write down notable and specific phrases they use (especially if you hear them from more than one source). There are few things more powerful in writing than echoing a thought that’s already bouncing around in your readers’ brain, especially when you use the exact same words they were going to use.

Pro-tip: If you’ve got an archive of email communications or reviews from target companies, these can be great resources from which to mine turns-of-phrase that will get noticed by your target audience.

Put your writing style in writing

Creating a style guide is a must-do if you’ve got more than one person writing for your region. Even a handful of simple rules (a yes-or-no on emojis, when to use contractions, what perspective to use, tone-of-voice, personality, etc.) can go a long way to making the work of different writers seem like they were created by the same person.

If you go to the trouble of writing a style guide, keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep it short. Your writers probably won’t read (or remember) an extensive treatise but they just might internalize a few pages of succinct points
  • Keep it simple. Don’t get into the weeds of English grammar or syntax. Basic rules of thumb are better than intricate expositions on the propriety of split infinitives.
  • Define your tone and show examples

That’s it for today. We hope we unleashed the inner wordsmith in you. Feel free to reach out to us if you’ve got any questions about making your region stand out in the crowded world of the digitally written word. We’d love to help!

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