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Editing Walkthrough: Are You Centering Your Audience in COVID-19 Updates?

By: Ann Wylie, President, Wylie Communications

June 15, 2020

One thing I liked about a recent COVID-19 update I received from American Airlines: the length. The whole email weighed in at 172 words.

One thing I didn’t like about their message: It focuses on what American Airlines put into these efforts, not on what I’ll get out of them.

Instead of writing about what your organization is doing, it’s crucial to position your message in the reader’s best interest with benefits, not features.

So trade in your nouns—update, social-distancing measures, gratitude, flexibility, enhancements and commitment—for verbs, like find, fly, rebook, hold and help.

As Brian J. O’Connor, editor at Bankrate.com, puts it: “Our readers don’t want to just read stories. What they really want is a big button they can push that says, ‘Solve my problem.’ It’s up to us to be the button.”

With those fundamentals in mind, here’s the message I received from American Airlines, with my revisions:

American Airlines CEO, Doug Parker, provides an update on what American is doing to care for customers, team members and the communities we serve throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. 

Learn about:

Find out how you can stay safe and healthy on American Airlines during the coronavirus pandemic, from CEO Doug Parker. He shares how you can:

American is committed to keeping you updated and We look forward to welcoming you onboard when the time is right for you.

Thank you for flying American.


Ann Wylie is president of Wylie Communications. Get all of Ann’s tips by signing up for her newsletter, and learn more about positioning every message in your readers’ best interest here.

Copyright © 2020 Ann Wylie. All rights reserved.

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