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Writing thought-leadership reports


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Transforming opinion writing at EY for insights that get press attention

Professional service organisations rely on intellectual capital and original ideas for their success. Thanks to Emphasis, ‘Big Four’ accountancy firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young) is distilling these into reports that strengthen its business.

The challenge

EY research teams aim to position the company as a ‘thought leader’, so their reports need to be authoritative. But the firm called in Emphasis because too many analysts were producing long reports with no real viewpoint – and little to grab the attention of clients or the media.

‘The way people are educated to write by academia means there’s a lot of deductive writing, which takes a long time to get to the point. There is a lot of descriptive writing, waffle and technical language, which almost disguises clarity of thought,’ explains Simon Rhodes, Associate Director at EY.

The solution

Emphasis designed a training programme that focused on how to express a strong opinion and influence readers, but remain succinct. It included techniques for creating an attention-grabbing introduction and a concise, powerful executive summary, and examined how to present technical information effectively to a non-technical, strategic audience.

A series of six-monthly follow-up reviews reinforced the training.

The results

Aside from improving writing skills, the training has given EY analysts the tools to think clearly, as the methods encourage them to focus on their key messages.

‘Where people have been trained and kept it up, the improvement has been vast. We produce a lot of insightful reports that have been picked up by the press. Last year we had 78 press articles from my unit alone,’ says Simon.

EY continues to see good business writing as a core company value, and continues to trust Emphasis as its preferred supplier to train staff in how to achieve this.

‘Unless you can communicate clearly to the customer, no-one is going to take you seriously,’ says Simon. ‘Emphasis are extremely good at raising those communication standards to a very high level.’

'The improvement has been vast. Last year we had 78 press articles from my unit alone.’

Simon Rhodes, Associate Director, EY

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