PAR Problem [or Opportunity ActionResults Get to the Bottom Line

When the outcome is the most significant part of your message, the PAR organizational structure is the form to use to highlight your results. PAR is an effective organizational structure in résumés and sales letters.

By focusing on your bottom-line accomplishments, i.e., the impact your actions had on your employer, you help your reader see why employing you is in his or her best interest.

Marianne wanted a new job. "When I began the process of looking for a new job, I was completely frustrated. My company was in terrible shape. We'd been downsized to within an inch of our lives, we were all doing the jobs that used to be done by two, even three people, and I was fed up. But I recognized that my frustration was of no interest to potential employers. What I did was focus on my accomplishments, and I stated them in the context of solving problems or taking advantage of opportunities.

"For example, instead of 'responsible for supervising three outside gardening staff,' I wrote, 'reduced replacement shrubbery cost by 11 percent by adjusting the schedule of three outside gardeners to provide better coverage.'

"The bottom line is that I got a great new job!" Q&A: Position News and Information

Using a Q&A organizational structure allows you to control how news and information will be perceived. Word questions so that they stress a benefit or highlight how to avoid a negative outcome. It's an effective approach in newsletter articles and procedure manuals.

Newsletter Articles

It's not uncommon to have to publish bad news in a newsletter. Don explained that he's the newsletter editor for a chemical distributor. "Last month, for instance, I had to write an article telling the independent distributors who are part of our consortium that if they cross a state line, they're liable for damages under new federal statutes. It's important that they know this information. But I also know human nature. If I ran an article about a new law that increases their exposure, they'd toss the newsletter aside—not because they don't want to know, but because they'd hope to avoid it a little bit longer.

"So what I did was position the information in a positive way. I used a headline that read 'Five Strategies You Can Use Now.' The introductory paragraph read 'The five strategies detailed below can help protect you from liability. It's under your control.' Then I began with a Q&A. Instead of asking 'Do you want to know your liability?' I phrased it as 'What can I do to avoid liability?' Every question was worded as a positive or neutral statement."

Procedure Manuals

Procedure manuals often force employees to read through long-winded narratives filled with legalese. Consider using a Q&A organizational structure instead.

Amy, director of computer services for an entertainment conglomerate, said, "I organized the entire procedure manual using a category organizational structure. Within each category, I used a Q&A organizational structure. It worked well. In fact, it was so effective that, during a recent revision, I added an index that listed all the questions covered in the manual by category.

"I made sure that all the questions were positive. I wanted to highlight certain policies, and I positioned those questions first. For example, in the section that detailed our policy against sending jokes or cartoons, I wanted to highlight that our concern is to protect against viruses, not to stifle humor or imply that cartoons are a waste of time. After all, we're an entertainment company. Instead of 'Why can't I send jokes or cartoons via E-mail?' I phrased it as 'How can I help protect the company against viruses?'"

Note how important it is to choose words carefully. Simply avoiding a negative word ("can't") and using positive words ("help protect") conveys an upbeat message.

0 0

Post a comment