By Lauren Edwards
Force yourself to use the word “because” in the second, third or fourth sentence of just about anything you write — whether an email, blog post or contributed article.
This little trick gets you to include the “why” up high, in just about the right spot. This “why/because” statement shows relevance and boosts persuasiveness. Make your “because” answer these questions:
- Why does it matter?
- To whom?
- Why now?
- So what?
- What’s in it for the reader/recipient?
In a pitch: “I thought your readers would be interested in this because …”
In an assignment for a teammate, “This is important to the company/client because …”
In journalism, the “because” section is often somewhere in the second through six paragraphs, depending on whether it’s a long feature story or a typical news story. For example, here’s the start of a WSJ story:
“Americans are holding on to their smartphones for longer than ever.
“Pricier devices, fewer subsidies from carriers and the demise of the two-year cellphone contract have led consumers to wait an average of 2.83 years to upgrade their smartphones, according to data for the third quarter from HYLA Mobile Inc., a mobile-device trade-in company that works with carriers and big-box stores. That is up from 2.39 years two years earlier.”
The word “because” does not appear here, but the second sentence lists reasons (in boldface italics) — same thing. You too can rewrite your “because” statement. The trick is to use the word to pull the “why” out of your head and onto the screen.
Here’s the start of a B2B blog post that uses “because” in the second paragraph:
“As network perimeters dissolve, traditional enterprise security models fail. Cloud becomes the back-end. Mobile becomes the front-end.
“That is because our business computing requirements follow our consumer preferences. ‘Consumerization of IT’ is no longer a buzzword but rather today’s reality. Mobile delivers the best human experience, and cloud infrastructure powers the modern enterprise engine of innovation and choice.”
The other day, I was in a workshop with an uncommonly strong team. It seemed to me they were particularly trusting of one another, for good reason. Partly because of that, I suspect, they had fallen into a habit of being more transactional than expository or persuasive in their emails. They were leaving out the “because.” By putting it in, they agreed, their emails would be more persuasive and probably get more and faster replies.
Especially when an in-house PR team communicates with its PR agency, it’s important to include the “because” in any guidance for the agency team. This word unlocks valuable context that improves the quality of work.
Give it a little try. Make yourself use the word “because” in your second, third or fourth sentence. You can always edit it out later, but — in forcing it — you’ll have prompted faster release of the right content in the right place.
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Lauren Edwards is a former reporter for the Associated Press. She has been creating, customizing and delivering workshops for technology PR teams since 2000.
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