Archive for October, 2011

Setting the right tone for your bio

October 31st, 2011

I acknowledge that this is not specifically about newsletters! But, a well-written bio can be an important part of any publication–web content, brochure, newsletter, LinkedIn, you name it.

So, here’s the thing about tone: it has to match who you are and what you are about. And this doesn’t necessarily mean being very sober and gray if you are an attorney or an accountant. On the other hand, it doesn’t necessarily mean being terrifically chatty if your business is children’s clothes.

So how do you decide what tone to use? First of all, know your business and/or your brand. If you are an accountant, are you known for your patience and understanding with people who are nervous wrecks about money? If so, think about including words like “helpful” and “patient” and “understanding” as well as “highly trained” and “solid.” The first three words are more emotional, and that’s fine, because you are trying to reach clients who themselves need some comfort about dealing with their finances. (I won’t say if I’m one of them!)

Have you run across a bio that struck you as either hopelessly out of tune, or right on the mark? I’d love to hear about it.

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More about presenting your bio

October 27th, 2011

Last entry, I was talking about length–how, when you are conveying content on line, it’s critical to be easy on the reader’s eye, which is scanning, not reading word for word. Now, here’s something else: what about personal information?

We’ve come a long way from the formal, resume style biography-details about favorite sports, number of children, hobbies, are tempting to include, perhaps in the hope that the subject will form a link with a potential customer who also likes to: ski, grow giant pumpkins, hike in Alaska.

The question you must ask, however, is how closely does this personal information underline your strengths? An orthopedic surgeon who loves downhill skiing may be someone with courage and a very good understanding of knee joints. A house painter who does landscape painting on weekends may have a strong sense of color. But if you are a dog trainer, telling site visitors, or newsletter readers, that your favorite beer is a local micro brew will do little or nothing to underline your competence with dogs, and may even distract.

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How to present your bio effectively

October 24th, 2011

I’m working with a client on some web content, including bios. The first thing that struck me was length! Inches and inches, literally, of tiny little black characters–enough to make your eyes glaze over, and certainly move toward something more bearable, like a colorful image–or another site.

There are some kinds of experience that call for more lengthy credentials, especially physicians, attorneys, psychiatrists, coaches, financial advisors. Those lines of work call for a depth of experience–and formal credentials–that in turn call for documentation. Where did Dr. Jones complete her residency training? How long was she chair of the department of pediatrics? What does the CFO’s background tell us about his capacity to keep the company on an even keel?

Otherwise, keep it short and sweet! Not more than 100 words, at most.

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