Writing & Storytelling

Boost Your Reach: 3 Ways to Reach More Readers

reading laptop

Quick! Which would you rather read?

Itron, Inc. (NASDAQ: ITRI), which is innovating the way utilities and cities manage energy and water, announced that it’s working together with Maryland’s largest gas and electric utility, Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE), to connect and manage 260,000 Itron smart streetlights across the utility’s service territory.


A group of drunk teenagers approaches you as you’re walking home alone after dark. The streetlights get brighter — then dial 911 for help.

Baltimore streets will soon be lined with 260,000 Itron smart streetlights. These streetlights will conserve energy, reduce light pollution, decrease traffic jams. They’ll even call an ambulance if you get in a wreck.

You probably prefer the second one. And so would your readers.

I coached a group of PRSA members last month to help them draw readers in with reader-centric messages. Here’s what we did:

  1. Focus on the benefits, not on the features.

The original focuses on grants and the organization:

More than $6 million in grant funding is being distributed to groups across Georgia for the planting and care of trees. The Trees Across Georgia (TAG) program, in partnership with the Georgia Forestry Commission and US Forest Service, encourages projects that increase the benefits of tree canopy.

The revision focuses on what the grants will do for communities:

Did you know that trees reduce floods? Increase the value of your home? Even cut the number of crimes in your community?

Soon Georgia communities will have one million more trees, thanks to …

  1. Write about people, not about things.

The original focuses on a program:

AWC’s Certificate of Municipal Leadership (CML) program recognizes mayors and councilmembers for accomplishing training in five core areas. The trainings offered by AWC provide city elected officials with the knowledge they need to effectively operate within the law, plan for the future, secure and manage funds, foster strong relationships, and work to build more equitable communities.

The revision focuses on what people can do with the program:

Mayors and councilmembers: Learn new ways to operate more effectively within the law, foster stronger relationships and build more equitable communities.

  1. Write about the impact, not the event.

The original focuses on the event — an awards announcement:

For the first time in the 35-year history of the Heroes, Saints & Legends Awards, all three honorees are women. The Foundation of Wesley Woods will present the awards at their Heroes, Saints & Legends Gala on September 5, 2024. The annual event honors individuals who have transformed Atlanta’s community through a lifetime of achievement and commitment to leadership, service and philanthropy.

The revision focuses on the impact, what these awardees did to be honored:

They fed the hungry. Sheltered the homeless. Visited the sick, elderly and isolated.

They’re the Heroes, Saints & Legends Award winners. And for the first time ever, all three honorees are women.

How can you write messages that focus on the reader, not on your organization and its stuff?

Ann Wylie works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. Don’t miss a single tip: Sign up for Ann’s email newsletter here.

Copyright © 2024 Ann Wylie. All rights reserved.

[Photo credit: fizkes]

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Ann Wylie

1 Comment

  • This was a very insightful and interesting article! I enjoyed reading about different ways to reach more readers, and I think this knowledge is beneficial to everyone in the communications field. When I read a story, I find myself wanting to learn more about the benefits rather than the features, so this was very interesting to see. Focusing on what the reader wants to hear and writing messages for them will help maximize your reach. These tips are super helpful and will help me navigate my writing in the future! – Meg Fullen, Platform writer/editor

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