Rules for Successful Business Column Writing

When it comes to writing new and original material, it is always important 
to stay current and relevant, but I also believe it is important to compile 
these thoughts and ideas in a clear and compelling way. That means always following
 the rules of writing and using proper grammar. I also have to be
 very mindful of my audience and the message I wish to convey.

Writing these columns is enjoyable to me because it reminds me how far my 
business has come. After almost 30 years in this business, I feel like I
 have quite a few lessons to share. I feel a strong responsibility to
 communicate solutions and practical advice about situations that took me
years to resolve.  Allowing others to gain from my experience can be very
gratifying.  It is easy to come up with topics when I think about all the
 things I have learned or feel strongly about. I also have a great support
 system in place that offers great topic ideas.

I have found that personal stories really add to the value of the lesson 
learned, and real life examples are always more interesting to read. As 
long as the stories are tasteful and publicly acceptable, it is a welcomed 
addition to a business article.

While editorial columns are, by definition, the writer’s opinion, it is 
still important to be accurate when quoting current conditions or trends.
 They should be based first on fact, then on personal experience.

In this day and age, it seems impossible to communicate without offending one 
group or another. Humor can certainly be a part of your story, but 
rereading your words and running the article by others before sending it off
 can be very helpful, as another perspective can be instrumental in the 
proofing process. It is also important not to offend someone’s 
intelligence, though I have found it is helpful to remind my readers of the
 basics every so often. So much of my business success is a result of the
 basics… hard work, having a plan, doing the right thing and keeping it

With that said, it is also important to consider the business climate and
 remember that practices and the way in which we do business changes all the 
time. For example, a column that I wrote a few years ago on “the business of 
entertaining” might not be as relevant in our current economic climate. The 
ideas and advice you give need to be applicable and not outdated. 

Fortunately, I have never experienced any strong negative feedback from a
 reader, though I believe it is always important to address these “letters to
 the editor” with courtesy and respect. First and foremost, thank them for 
taking the time to read your column. Remember that everyone is entitled to 
their own opinion. It is up to you to back up your point with more factual 
information, but if you see a pattern in the responses that you receive,
 consider writing another column based on these opposing opinions.
 Controversy always makes for an interesting read- just remember to play this
 out in a mannerly way.

I read as many business publications as I can, especially when I travel. I 
don’t follow any one columnist in particular, but I typically scan the
 publication for topics that interest me at the moment. If I don’t have time 
to read something I think might be valuable at the time, I tear out the 
article or print it from an online source. I keep a large file of “to read” 
and try to keep it with me at all times, using any opportunity I can to pull
 something out to read when I find myself with a few free minutes. If it is
 something I want to keep long term, I have a filing system for future
 reference or to share with others.

I am fortunate to have had wonderful feedback from the etiquette slant to my 
columns. I have a great following of readers who also believe that learning 
and maintaining good manners in all areas of our lives needs to be 
reinforced. Many of my younger readers have not grown up in an environment 
where we have put a lot of weight on it, so these topics are particularly newsworthy to

Since I have the privilege of using this column as my personal “soap box,” I 
like to use this as an opportunity to set an example with the style of my
 writing as well as the topics that I discuss. I get tremendous satisfaction
 from communicating things that I believe are essential for every generation,
 now and forever.

By April Fawcett Nagel

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