October 9th, 2007 by Bob Bly
Often-quoted advice to writers is to write the way people talk.
To me, that means using the language your readers would use when talking about the same subject you are writing to them about.
A case in point is a fundraising letter I got today from a public radio station featuring soft and eclectic rock and pop.
The letter begins:
“Dear Neighbor: I have a feeling you’re a smart media consumer.”
Let me ask you. When you turn on your radio to listen to music, do you think of yourself as a “media consumer”?
Or as someone who likes to listen to music on the radio?
The fundraising copywriter has taken a simple concept and buried it in jargon alien to the reader.
If I were asked to edit this letter, my opening might read:
“Dear Music Lover: Do you ever wish, when you turn on the radio, that they’d play OUR music? You know the kind of music I mean … etc.”
Do you prefer my version or their version — and why?
Or, rewrite it with your own lead.
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