Top 3 Tips for Good Business Writing, from a Stevie Award Winner

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 @ 02:45 PM

Q&A with Jennifer Rotner, owner of Elite Editing in New York, New York, which won the Stevie Award for Best Website in the 2010 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.  Jennifer is also Chair of the final judging committee for the Media categories of the 2011 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.  The final entry deadline for the awards is this Friday - you'll find the entry kit here.

Jennifer RotnerWhat are your top 3 tips for creating good writing on the Web or in business documents?

1. Be Clear.

Clear writing focuses on a specific objective and a specific audience. Examine your assumptions about readers—can you use industry jargon? How much background information will you need to provide?

2. Be Honest and Accurate.

This should go without saying; people are going to more willingly trust (and therefore do business with) companies known for their integrity. Be intentional about spreading the truth and about verifying information—anything less will annoy readers who know the facts and motivate them to look elsewhere.

3. Be Balanced.

Ultimately, effective business communication happens when the message you present is received, understood and accepted by your intended audience; and the best way for this to happen is to create a balance—passion with control, grammar with rhetoric and readability with enjoyment.

What has happened since you won Website of the Year at the 2010 Stevie Awards for Women in Business?

It’s been a great year for us. Since we took home the award, we immediately saw an increase in traffic to the website that has sustained throughout the year. We’ve also seen the B2B side of our business grow by twofold. Much of that growth comes from building a good reputation and gaining referral business. I credit the Stevie Award with strengthening our company’s overall reputability and visibility in the market.

In 2011 we’ve also put a tremendous amount of effort into our website. With the goal in mind of making a visit to as resourceful and simple as possible, we’ve made a lot of changes and are relaunching this October, complete with new services, checkout system, and blog.

What item of news recently caught your eye and why?

I’ve been really enthralled by what’s going on in the Middle East. So much of my business involves social media, writing, and the sharing of ideas, and these have been a driving force behind the unprecedented movements that are changing the landscape of that region. I have Twitter followers from Egypt whose profiles call for freedom and democracy. It’s pretty awe-inspiring.

Do you have a favorite business app?

(Does Angry Birds count? It’s a great stress reliever on those tough days!)

Yes, I do. Evernote is a game changer for me. If you’re a list maker or a bookmarker, this is the most incredible tool. I went from always having a notepad in front of me and post-its sticking to my laptop (and often to the bottoms of my shoes when I got home) to having everything I wrote, heard, saw, bookmarked, etc., neatly filed, tagged, and organized in a cloud-based app that syncs to all my devices. Ahhh.

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?

That’s easy. Storm chaser. Since I was a kid I ran outside when everyone else ran inside. But, being a small business owner, sometimes I feel like that IS my profession!

What quality or qualities do you most value in your business associates?

Trust, above all else. I’m putting my business, my clients, my livelihood, into the hands of those I work with, so I need to feel that they are as devoted to the work as I am.

What do you think is the worst bad habit to have at work?

Everyone is different, but I can tell you mine: bringing my laptop to bed. I’m trying so hard to break the habit! Bed is for sleep, not for work! (Or that’s what I keep telling myself…)

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?

You’ve got to love what you do. I can’t imagine getting up every day and devoting my time to something I’m not passionate about. Whatever it is, you’ve got to find that thing that makes you want to kick the covers off and get to work. For me, it’s running this business. It’s helping people—day in and day out—to get published, get into grad school, or run their own businesses more effectively with our services. This is what drives and inspires me every morning to get working, and what makes me sneak that laptop into bed at night!

About Jennifer Rotner

Jennifer Rotner is the owner of Elite Editing, a New York–based full-service editorial company offering proofreading, editing and writing help for businesses, academics and individuals through the website

From her real-world experience as a professional editor, Jennifer recognized the need for a better way to ensure that editing and proofreading services were customized to each of her clients. With this goal firmly in mind, she developed the exclusive matching system Elite Editing uses to pair every project and customer with the right proofreader or editor. Which is why Elite Editing boasts a loyal roster of satisfied clients and an unrivaled pool of editors that hail from the business, academic and journalism realms. 

Prior to founding Elite Editing, Jennifer helped form the editorial division at NYC & Company, New York City’s official marketing organization, where she ran the copy department as copy chief. Before taking on this post, she gained years of experience in the field as features editor for Focus-New York magazine and as an editor for the marketing department at the American Museum of Natural History.

Jennifer received a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and is a Baltimorean (her home town) above all else.

About Elite Editing

Elite Editing is a New York–based proofreading, editing, and writing company that offers editorial support for companies of all sizes, from small businesses and non-profits to large corporations and Fortunate 500s; authors and writers seeking to get published; and students who want their projects to have that final, all-important polish. Elite Editing also offers copywriting, web copy optimization and SEO, content creation, and many other long-term customized business solutions that give their clients the benefits of having a professional editorial staff, without the overhead. For more information visit

Topics: business awards, website awards, stevie awards, web awards, best websites, Jennifer Rotner, Elite Editing