Writing Basic Business Profiles

Lots of writers write profiles. I’ve done quite a few myself. I’ve also sold quite a few of them and plan to sell even more. That’s because I write basic business profiles, a type of story that usually runs to about 1,500 words. They are well received by editors.

What are basic business profiles? They’re a basic type article that concentrates on an individual and his or her interest in a particular subject. It’s a basic business story, along with a bit more information about the subject.

Here’s the beginning of one I read recently in The NonProfit Times. The author was freelance writer Jeff Jones and the title was “Letting the Sun Shine in.”

A friend sent Bill Strickland an orchid. Struck by its beauty, he bought a beginner’s guide and asked area experts how to grow the flower. But he failed to sustain any orchids in his basement nursery.

Realizing he didn’t have the right environment, he set out to build a greenhouse. Nearly seven years later, Strickland, founder and visionary of the Pittsburgh-based Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC) effectively cultivated that one orchid into a 40,000-square-foot greenhouse. Horticulturists in training at MBC now grow thousands of orchids there, and 2008 sales generated roughly $265,000.”

Readers recognize right away that this is a business story and they are eager to find out how Strickland learned to grow the plants and how he grows thousands of them there every year. After that introduction, it’s no wonder that they will hang on and find out more….the basics of writing business profiles.

After that status statement, the writer moved along to show readers how the subject handles himself inside the firm. He talks about the problems Strickland faced in a way that show him in action. It’s very important to remember that you’re talking about the subject, not the problem.

Although it doesn’t happen in this story, often the writer will include more information about the person involved, about his or her family, children, homes, community activities and the like. When you are about 500 words from the end of your piece, you might move into your subject’s personal life. Actually, a lot of this — his or her office, attitude toward others working there and toward the company, hobbies, even religion — can be woven into the business part of the story. Be sure to let the reader know if the subject is single, married or divorced, and if there are children.

Readers, and editors, actually don’t seem to want much about controversy in basic business profiles. They seem to prefer the “chamber of commerce” approach to journalism. If controversy is very close to the company, you may have to report on it, but often it may not even be mentioned in the article.

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