Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Number 12

Wow, this was a hard one. It took me a couple of days, on and off, to get it together. Part of the problem is most of the chapters I've written have been the things that I'm most excited about. (Thus easier.) I thought I'd tackle one that's a little more ... iffy.

Also, I'm struggling a little with focus. This started as a guide to more effective writing. (Business writing, that is.) But I also scoped out a few chapters that are more directed at communications in general, which may be less relevant to some readers. In fact some of the tips and guidelines offered in this latest chapter would be outside the purview of all but the most senior corporate communications type, crossing into HR, strategy and operations.

Similarly, I've got a lot to say about internal communications, which may not be relevant to a lot of writers. So with both of these issues I've been trying to reconcile these different things, trying to apply the lessons across a lot of areas to be more useful. But then it gets muddled and sluggish.

I'm not sure what the answer is at this point. I'm thinking maybe there's a separate section of the book on broader communications issues. That way I can keep each chapter more focused. So that's the direction I've settled on for now, and it helped me finally get this chapter out of my system:
  • Creating Cathedral Builders. The title's based on a story I came across years ago when we were putting together the employee communications practice at Ogilvy. I was sort of in charge of "articulating" the practice -- putting all our ideas and principles and experiences in a narrative to build marketing materials around. As the story goes, a man comes upon a construction site where three workers are apparently doing the same thing. He asks them each what they're doing. One says, "I'm breaking rocks," the other says, "I'm earning a living," and the third one says, "I'm helping build a cathedral." That pretty much summed it all up. A little too cutely for some people in the practice. But employee communications is about engaging employees by giving them direction and purpose and making them feel they're a part of something bigger. That what they're doing matters and they have a stake in the company's success. Etc.
So we'll see what happens with that. And we'll also see how my three-chapter-a-week goal holds up as I tackle these "harder" chapters. If I only get two a week done I'll still be close to finished by the end of June. (Not counting revising.)

And looking at my topic list now, some of the ideas are a little ... thin. On the other hand, I've thought up a handful of new chapters as the process has gone along. It still looks like I'll be in the 20-to-25 range.

Halfway there.

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