Colleges should add one class to the general-ed curriculum for all business majors: Journalism 101.
It’s true. Even if aspiring business people have no desire for a career in news reporting, by taking that course, they will learn one very important thing that will serve them well in business: the concept of the 5 Ws and an H.
It’s shocking how many news releases, announcements of product launches, or information about new hires have crossed our desks through the years missing at least one of the 5 Ws or the H. Without them, your business is failing to share the whole story with your audience.
So just what are the 5 Ws and the H? They are the who, what, when, where, why and how of your business news. And so often, business writing fails to include all six elements.
How do you incorporate them into what you write?
Let’s say John Mechanic is opening a car-repair facility and wants to share that with the community by sending a news release to the local newspaper or by buying advertising. Here is the basic information John must include:
Who: John Mechanic. Give us details about John, such as how long he has been fixing cars, notable places he has worked or any special training he has.
What: Opening a car-repair shop.
When: Give us the date, such as Wednesday, June 1, 2016, at 9 a.m. Don’t stop there; tell us the regular hours of the shop, such as weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
Where: Give us the exact street address of the shop, and don’t forget to add the phone number, website and any social media contacts. Don’t give us the intersection or the name of the center. Your potential customers live by the GPS on their phones and need a street address.
Why: To give car owners another option for car repair in their town. But that’s obvious. Why should those car owners give John a try with their car? Does he have a courtesy shuttle service? Does his waiting room offer free WiFi? Does he offer senior or military discounts? Does he have grand opening coupons available on his website? Does he have a specialty, such as expertise with German cars? Does he provide a discount for cash payments? What credit cards does he accept? What is his parts warranty?
How: Just how does John fix cars? What technology in his shop, such as the latest computer for diagnostics? Is he certified to fix electrical systems in hybrids? What makes John’s shop different from others?
Before you write your next business memo, jot down the words who, what, when, where, why and how -- and then make notes under each word. That way, you won’t leave any questions unanswered for your audience.
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