Personal Notes from An Event Apart, Boston, 2015
Kate Kiefer Lee, Writer & Editor, MailChimp @katekiefer
Healthcare, money, private information, fundraising, religion, or politics are all sensitive or touchy topics. There two types of touchy messages.
Urgent messages which can be time-sensitive
- Error messages
- Security alerts
- Rejection notices
Less urgent messages
- Help docs
- Customer service emails
- Contact pages
- Legal polices
- Unsubscribe pages
Map your touchy subjects. If you don’t know where to start list all content then pull out urgent, sensitive and time-sensitive content. Then map by the following three areas. List the Content type, what reader might be feeling and the appropriate tone..
Principles for writing:
- Clarity first
- Get to the point
- Stay calm – Avoid alarming language. Avoid all caps and exclamation.
- Be serious – Save the jokes for later when writing for sensitive situations.
- Accept responsibility
- Be nice. Avoid jargon.
Read the work out loud to check yourself. This puts you in a conversational frame of mind. It’s great for self editing.
Error messages and alerts:
- The user may often be frustrated here. Be calm. When all else fails say exactly what you mean and say it nicely.
- Have a clear headline.
- Keep things consistent with the product. Keep things on an editorial calendar that is connected with deb calendar.
- Use formats consistent from document to document. If you use list items in one place use them everywhere for similar content.
- Readers are annoyed frustrated or distracted
- Warm understanding honest.
- Validate emotions and offer opportunity to stay subscribed.
- Pay attention to the news to not say anything. Tragedy isn’t about you. Nobody cares about your thoughts and feelings. They want news.
- Be honest, warm and direct. Own the problem and be specific. Let people know what you’re doing to fix the problem.
Possible templates types:
- Email tweet blog post Facebook post
- Apologize up front if necessary
- Say what happens next
- Who the message will be from
- Who needs to sign off
- Laws and other requirements
Emergency contact list.
Review unsubscribe flow and wording.
- Check out Editorially’s terms of service.