Most assignments will mirror the actual writing needs of the business world.
Reports present facts. If you work for, say, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, the company may be considering whether or not it should develop a line of “smoothie” dairy drinks. You may be required to write a feasibility report that delineates the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. You would have to investigate what products already populate the market and which are better sellers and why. You would want to determine if Ben and Jerry’s could offer something different – what, why and how – and if the company is advised to proceed.
If the company proceeds, you may be required to determine how the new smoothies compare in sales; your report would be an investigative report. You would need to gather sales data for the major competitors.
If the company determines that three flavors do not sell as well as three others, and it pulls those unpopular flavors from the supermarket shelves, you may be required to write status or progress reports on subsequent market effects.
After several months, you may be required to write a formal report that delineates the overall success of the smoothie line; how, exactly, has the product line increased company profits and expanded product line? What, exactly, does the product line offer the consumer in terms of healthy food choices and how does that nutritional profile compare to competitors’ products? What can Ben and Jerry’s expect to see in immediate, short-term gains as well as in long-term gains?
Proposals attempt to persuade an audience to adopt a plan. Audiences within a company require an INTERNAL proposal; audiences outside a company, who are typically considered potential clients, require an EXTERNAL proposal. Either audience may ask for a proposal; in which case, it would be considered SOLICITED.
If Hannaford Supermarkets consider shelving the new Ben and Jerry’s smoothie line, they may require, solicit, a proposal that outlines how Ben and Jerry’s would incorporate their product line to ensure successful sales in the Hannaford chain; they would look for specific demographic and/or economic data that would predict appeal in particular store locations. Data may be supplied by way of charts or other visuals that clearly represent projected benefits. Pricing, advertising and other costs would be addressed in detail.
Executive summaries are synopses of longer documents; the key points are highlighted with the intent that reader will want to read how those key points are supported. In other words, the longer document will bear out the supporting details and data that can be deduced in the key points. Key points might be represented in charts, graphs, or other visuals.
Memos and Correspondences:
Business communications typically take the form of e-mails, letters, memos; electronic correspondence, most of the time carries authority and weight equal to paper correspondences. In-house memos refer to conveyances to personnel within the same organization or agency. Memos have a multitude of purposes: to describe policy, assign jobs or tasks; summarize work or results of personnel; seek input from colleagues.
Oral presentations often are accompanied by graphics or visuals generated by software programs, Power-Point, the most common. Oral presentations serve a multitude of purposes: to describe, summarize, explain, instruct, or persuade.
Brochures, Newsletters, Web Sites:
Products and services are often described to potential consumers, clients, etc. in public venues such as these.