An article at Ragan’s Grapevine discusses the debate on whether it is better to communicate via print or online.
According to the article, the debate used to be a heated one, with “hip young virtual-worlders” opting for online communication even as the “old guard” still holds on to print.
The article points out, though, that the two camps in the debate seem to have currently reached a standoff. Although some companies have stuck to the tried-and-tested print media and others have chosen to distribute their communications only online, most companies have been pursuing a judicious mix of both media.
The article opines that an organization should choose whatever works best for it, provided that it recognizes the differences between print and online media. This is necessary for it to be able to optimize each one.
The main difference between print and online communication, says the article, is that people do not read online. Reading on paper is easier, faster and produces less eyestrain than reading on a monitor.
The online reader is, according to the article, impatient. Furthermore, online material has links and other diversions competing for the reader’s attention. He or she wants information but if the material does not “speak” to him or her immediately, he or she moves on and skips around to find it.
For those who are used to writing only for print, the article provides some pointers for online writing:
- Keep your writing tight.
- Keep your paragraphs short and up to only two to three sentences.
- Use bullet points whenever possible.
- Frontload your articles, putting the gist at the top of the screen, which is what people read first.
- Don’t use cute headlines or complicated leads, and just deliver your message simply and clearly.
- Use the informal conversational tone preferred by online readers.
- Online readers prefer text so do not clutter up your page with too much pictures and graphics.
Communicators nowadays should master the art of writing for all media.