Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Weekly writing coach: How many documents can you wring out of one?

I was inspired last weekend listening to NPR's story about a local newspaper editor who rewrote the police blotter as poetry.  What came to mind is the type of writing test I might give communications writers today:  How many different types of writing can you wring out of one document, using your rewrite skills?

The test goes something like this. Take one all-purpose document--let's say an already-written news release, for preference. Using no other document, what else can you write or rewrite from it? My list looks something like this:
  1. A statement (that's all quote, no narrative)
  2. A fact sheet (the opposite: All facts, no quote)
  3. A series of tweets about the news being announced
  4. An op-ed (all the data in the middle, and your opinion on it clearly stated in the opening and closing graphs)
  5. A speech that includes the news being announced and why it's significant to the audience
  6. A blog post or series of posts that focus on one particular aspect of the news
  7. An FAQ about the topic
  8. A letter to the editor (just a shorter version of an op-ed) using facts to make a case
  9. Several Facebook updates that ask readers questions about the announcement to elicit opinions; share the news with an angle especially apt for your FB readers, or tying the announcement to another event
  10. A question-and-answer set on different facts in the release, for one of the many question sites out there: LinkedIn, Quora, Facebook questions.
  11. A news release targeted at a different audience or aspect of the topic.
What else could you wring out of a news release? Share your list in the comments.

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