Leslie J. Thompson

Dynamic Writer and Speaker with a Background in Journalism, Marketing Communications and Ghostwriting

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The Art of Asking Questions

February 19th, 2015 ·

Earlier today, I received a phone call from an entrepreneur who has invented a new product. She wanted to know whether I had any experience writing scripts for direct response commercials. You know, the kind of “As Seen On TV” spots that air in the wee hours of the night? I told her that I have written dozens of scripts, from news stories to educational segments, but had not specifically done a direct response ad. Then she asked whether I thought it was something I could handle. With complete confidence, I told her, “Yes.”

How could I be so certain, when I didn’t have specific expertise in that industry? The answer is that I have made a career out of being a generalist. Although as a freelance writer I have considerable experience in certain sectors, such as financial services and education, my primary talent is asking questions. Ask the right questions, and you’ll get the answers you’re looking for–the answers you want to give your readers and viewers.

Whether I am writing a video script, white paper, blog article, or press release for you, I focus on collecting the needed information from the best sources. Sometimes that means interviewing experts by phone or in person, while other times I am doing background research online or culling through a competitor’s marketing collateral. Once I am done gathering intelligence, my job is to rephrase and reframe it in the format, voice and tone that you have requested for your intended audience. For me, the key is not the subject matter itself, but asking the right questions. As a result, I have created content for industries ranging from insurance and financial services to food manufacturing, benefits administration, travel and tourism, data network security, industrial cooling systems, nonprofit charities, and senior living centers. These writing samples from the past year illustrate the diverse nature of the projects I take on:

D.R. Saur Financial corporate brochure

SQL Injection Attacks Put Businesses at Risk for Data Breaches
(blog article for cybersecurity firm)

PacMoore website copy (food manufacturing)

5 Tips for Buying an Independent Insurance Agency
(blog article for business broker)

Destination Discovery promotion flyers (sent to IHG partner travel agents)

I credit the excellent instructors in the graduate journalism program at NYU for teaching me the art of asking questions, and am grateful that I’ve been able to use this skill throughout my career as a writer. If you need help with a writing project of any kind, please give me a call at [two one four] 704-6661. I’ll ask you a lot of questions–about your audience, the voice and tone of the piece, and whether you need a strong call to action–and then I will gladly get busy helping you get your message out.

Tags: Freelance Writing