Verisk Maplecroft is a global risk analytics and research company that works with some of the world’s best known brands. The company’s data, reporting and forecasting give its customers a competitive edge in decision-making across important areas including market strategy, procurement and compliance, business resilience, security, human rights, and ESG (environmental, social and governance) investment.
In 2016 Verisk asked Writing Project to help because it felt that some of its academically trained researchers were writing in too scholarly a way for their customers. Writing Project Associates delivered two workshops at the company’s offices in Bath and London, covering clarity, brevity and punctuation, and showing the company’s report writers and marketing staff how they could polish their styles.
The workshops were attended by more than 30 participants and the audience was supplemented by 15 more staff phoning in from international locations.
Verisk’s staff felt that the workshops were “practical, engaging and highly beneficial”. The workshops made their writing “more accessible and user-friendly, less academic” and the trainers’ practical and interactive advice gave them the opportunity to view their own writing critically and change the way they wrote, aiming above all for clarity and readability. “The combination of theory with practical exercises worked really well,” one participant wrote. “Both trainers were very knowledgeable and passionate about writing.”
LifeCycle UK is a Bristol-based national charity devoted to getting as many people as possible cycling. Its range of activities is extensive, from family groups taking nature rides to tandem rides for the blind and visually impaired, and a scheme called ‘Bike Minded’ which aims to help people with mental health issues. It also offers cycling training, maintenance courses, a swap shop, and many other initiatives.
LifeCycle wanted to find out how to get its message across in a clearer, more concise, and better targeted way through its website and newsletter.
Writing Project Associates delivered a workshop that focused on the charity’s audiences, helping its staff look at the heart of what they write, and for whom. The trainers concentrated on getting participants thinking about simple, practical, everyday things they could do to improve the way they wrote.
The workshop opened the eyes of the staff to the difference their writing style could have in a commercial environment. One staff member commented afterwards, “The workshop will be particularly useful when I’m working on areas such as website content, press releases, anything where fewer words and greater impact are the focus. The benefits from even a short session are real and lasting.”
Poppy Brett, LifeCycle’s Director, said, “The workshop wasn’t what any of us expected — it was far more enjoyable. It was also incredibly useful, and helped focus our minds on how to get key messages across succinctly.”
In November 2015 Writing Project Associates commenced delivering writing support to the council’s fostering teams (Recruitment and Assessment; Kinship Assessment; Support and Supervision). This took the form of an initial workshop to identify the core principles of effective writing, one-to-one sessions for all participants to receive feedback on their writing and explore areas for development, and a follow-up workshop to address common writing challenges as highlighted through the one-to-ones.
Team managers commented “[The work] has been enthusiastically received not least because this is an area of development that can be overlooked. Staff appreciated the opportunity to take a critical view of how they approach the writing process and their individual styles… As a result, we as their managers, as well as the people who receive their reports and assessments, have seen a marked improvement in the quality of work being presented. This is across all areas, from the weighty assessment pieces where workers have to organise a large volume of information from a variety of sources into a coherent narrative of an individual’s life story and experience, to the day to day recordings staff undertake regarding their communication with others.”
Similar writing support was subsequently offered to the LCC Adoption Team, Targeted Youth Support and other teams across Children’s Social Care (including children in need, looked after children, youth offending, children and family centres, safeguarding). These workshops involved over 150 staff.
During 2016/17, writing workshops were also offered to LCC Adult Social Care teams providing opportunities for a further 100 participants.