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Writing

In addition to our design and imagery, our copywriting and the choices we make in spoken remarks are significant tools in expressing our brand personality. 

We need to be thoughtful, we need to be engaging, and we need allow our brand personality attributes to shine through:

  • Bold
  • Confident
  • Smart and forward-thinking
  • Down-to-earth
  • Inclusive

Tone

Through our communications, we seek to connect with a wide diversity of university stakeholders: students, faculty and staff, alumni, the news media, business and community leaders, and more. 

There should be a common spirit and consistent messaging that connect all of Long Beach’s communications.

That said, it’s essential to keep your audience(s) and your purpose in mind. You likely would speak to a 16-year-old prospective student differently than you would a 60-year-old prospective donor. They have different expectations and preferences and you want them to take different actions. Think of tone as a sliding scale (or a series of scales): casual to formal, entertaining to serious, high-energy to more sedate.

Where does your purpose fall? Where does your audience fall? For example, the alumni audience might generally fall in the middle of the casual-to-formal scale. Younger alumni might skew more casual; older, more formal. An invitation to Homecoming is more casual and high-energy, while a major gift solicitation is more formal and serious.

Writing tone graph


Story Selection

As we engage in storytelling and develop content for the CSULB news website and other environments, we should be guided by the themes that illustrate our special meaning in the higher education landscape. 

Distinction
Rankings, awards, and praise for our university and our faculty, staff, students, and alumni
 
Achievement
The thriving intellectual life of this remarkable community of teachers and learners
 
Discovery
The quest for knowledge through faculty and faculty-student collaborative research that deepens and enriches our educational experience, adds to the greater body of knowledge, and provides for the public good

Inclusivity
The strength that comes from vibrant diversity in all its forms, which we embrace and lift up
 
Impact
The reach and power of a Beach education for our graduates, and the role of the university as a catalyst for our state and community

 


Copy Development

Be purposeful

When writing, ask yourself:

  • Who am I talking to?
  • What are the three (or fewer) things the reader absolutely must know in order to take the next step?
  • How do we want to make people feel, think and do?

be a good conversationalist

  • Good copy sounds more like how people speak and less like how they write. So talk to your audience.
  • For impact, use short sentences. Some short sentences might not even be “real” sentences. Eliminate complicated clauses and extra words. Your message will thank you. And your reader will get to the point. Faster.
  • Stay active. Passive verbs can confuse the real point of the sentence. Action words are direct and propel stories forward.
  • Free yourself to start sentences with “and.” Get comfy with the dash because that’s the way people think and speak – in bursts.

keep it short & sweet

Studies show that people remember three to five pieces of information that they read or hear. (In fact, too much information might cause them to tune out.) Serve up just enough content to make our audience want to take the next step.

be specific

Details help a story stick.

surprise readers

Don’t be afraid to be provocative. It’s good to have punchy headlines that jolt the audience a bit. Avoid generic language that doesn’t move a reader forward. Give people the information they’re looking for or surprise them with something they don’t know.

Educate entertain enlighten

Grab their attention and don’t let go.