I’m reading an excellent book on creativity in business called Juicing the Orange, written by local marketing gurus Pat Fallon and Fred Senn. While they are writing in business-scale terms, much of what they have to say also applies to good business writing.
One of their principles is “Demand a ruthlessly simple definition of the business problem.” This is advice familiar to any business plan writer and any serious networker – if you can’t say what you do in one or two sentences, you probably are still a little fuzzy on what it is.
This applies to the craft of business writing as well. Before you starting writing a piece, come up with a ruthlessly simple statement of what it is you’re trying to say or accomplish. This will keep your thinking focused during the writing process.
Bonus: convert that into an actual statement that says/accomplishes it. There’s your headline. There are the key words that should crop up consistently during the piece to keep it “on message.”
Get ruthlessly simple first. You can embellish later.