Tag Archives: writing

Focus on advocacy and branding: how do I write like an expert?

Antique TypewriterWe all do it, we are expected to do it: that little article in the school newsletter, that blog post in the library website, that short report for our headteacher, that training feedback form for our line manager, etc. etc. etc.

We all need to write for our job but are we doing it the right way?

Starting to post for this blog was really daunting at the beginning so I decided to ask a friend of mine for her top tips on how to make my posts interesting, useful and worth-reading.

These are the invaluable tips from Anne Wollenberg, award-winning freelance journalist and friend extraordinaire!

The audience comes first: I suggest having some questions you want each article to answer – whichever of these are appropriate to the situation… How did your event/initiative/course benefit the school? Why was it worth spending the money? What did you gain or learn from the activity? Why are you telling the reader about it? Who is your reader and what do they want to know? What matters to them? For example… do they want to know that you had a nice day out – or do they want to know why you spent their money, how they will benefit and how they will be affected? Don’t think about what you want to write but about what matters to the reader.

Always cover the basics: Make sure you cover who, what, where, when, why – and so what?

Keep your message consistent and clear: People should remember any one piece – whatever they are writing – may be the first or only article any individual reads about the organisation/library. What do you need to convey about how you operate, your priorities, your ethos, etc? Always bear in mind it may be someone’s first impression of you. Remind them of your brand messages. What are the aims of your library/service? How do you want to be perceived? What are you saying about yourselves? These are things to keep in mind when writing.

Keep your readership interested: Remember that your reader doesn’t really care about whether you had a nice day. They want to know why they should be interested in the day/event you had. It’s fine to say the day was fun or enjoyable (as it might encourage others to attend the next event) but say WHY. What did you do or learn that was enjoyable AND worthwhile?

Split it up a bit: 500-700 words is quite long and a daunting amount to write. And whatever the word length, always split your article up in different sections. It can include a certain number of words of body text (main article text) and then pick one or two or three of the following:

– Top three things you learned during the event/training course/initiative

– Action points: explain some of the ways in which you will implement what you learned, changes you will make, etc

– About the trainer/guest speaker. Who are they? What’s their job? What was it like to meet them?

– An interesting fact or point of discussion that was covered on the day

What NOT to include: what you had for lunch. Just, no!

Author visits – get (and give!) the Wow factor.

As part of the London and South East SLG Lib Meet in April 2014 we had an afternoon of discussions based on topics that had been chosen by the delegates on the day. We were lucky enough to have some wonderful authors with us on the day and they took part in the discussion groups.  The discussion was made all the better by their contribution from “other side of the table”! Our thanks go to authors Margaret Bateson-Hill, Sam Osman, Sandra Agard, Alex Wheatle, Annette Smith and James Dawson for making the day such a pleasure.

The key points raised during the discussion about author visits are listed here.

The attending school librarians had fantastic discussions with the authors and together came up with some superb ideas that could help you turn an average author visit, into an inspirational time for all and give your visit the WOW factor!

  • Authors to relate to students the importance of good accurate research and how they accomplish that.
  • Authors to prepare a lesson relating to his work /novels to help facilitate debates/discussions.
  • Author could recommend YA books that think are good for students to read: these could be put on display.
  • Authors to contact the school and suggest ideas of promotion or send in a teasing sample of text from their books.
  • List of books that influenced the author: the author could supply list in advance so that librarian could ensure these are in stock – library could promote them before and /or after visit – could have a pre-prepared handout to give out after the event.
  • Book trailers to be placed on school website.
  • Stories not just in books – promote love of narrative that are in film /cartoons/ etc. to appeal to those who do not read traditional way?
  • Creature writing – read students own work.
  • Item on school webpage / local press/ promotion of school and author.
  • Media students could interview author / make a film as part of visit.
  • Creature writing competition inspired by author books Before visit – winner could be read out or selected by the author.
  • Sale of books signed by author.
  • Bookmarks that list all the published books of the author or those recommended – could be double sided – publisher could produce – getting promotional material from publishers to help librarians promote author events.
  • Prizes – eg. t-shirts.
  • Excerpts from books around the librarian in advance – author could supply particular ones to use as might talk about at event.
  • Promotional material from publisher in advance – could include graphic material.
  • Ask students to ask questions based on the author’s books.
  • Each year group had a book read to them so students could prepare questions.
  • Author to find out about school in advance.
  • Check the audience – focus.
  • Emphasise strengths to Librarian.
  • Website information so that librarian knows all about you in advance.
  • Video clips.
  • Budget restrictions – can you offer more for the money?
  • Advertise well in advance that author is coming.
  • Contact Waterstones to become part of an existing book offer: unit £5 good discount
  • Prize book plates from author.
  • Timing can be difficult , authors should be flexible
  • Liaise with the public libraries.
  • Add creative writing lessons to the mix.
  • Offer Skype creative writing sessions – lower cost availability can be recorded conference option.
  • Ask an author / interview after the visit
  • Answer Twitter questions – less cost etc.
  • Author to write to Headteacher to say they enjoyed visiting the school.
  • Put Children Librarians’ comments on the author’s website.
  • 2 way impact – raising issues for further discussion.
  • Competition based on the both – win a copy.
  • Authors who talk about inspiration – their lives.
  • Sharing life experiences – role models / particularly if they have had a troubled background.
  • People who make the children “Think about the children!”
  • Being a writer is achievable.
  • Impact on reading.
  • Author needs to made the talk different STAND OUT.
  • Author who is not just words on a page.
  • What strange to wonderful things did you need to do to research your book?
  • Creative writing aspect.
  • Make author visit memorable.
  • Less is more – small groups work best.