Make Your Five W’s Reader-Centered

See the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How from an outside perspective.

When writing an article, an author or reporter traditionally thinks of the five W’s – Who, What When, Where and Why, plus How – as questions to be answered.

Here’s how that familiar paradigm looks when the reader is put at the center of the discussion:

Who: Who are you (as a business or nonprofit organization) that you are getting in touch with me? Do we have a prior relationship?

What: What should I pay attention to now? You may have interrupted my busy work day or my leisure time.

When and Where: Am I seeing this while at work, at night or on the weekend? Which vehicle did you use to contact me: newspaper, industry publication, email, enewsletter, LinkedIn, X (Twitter), Facebook?

Why: Why should I care about what you have to say? How will it help me to Save Time, Save Money, Make More Money, Save the World or Get More JOY Out of Life?

How: How shall I act upon this information? Will I call you, send an email, visit your website, sign a petition, make a purchase, attend an event or do something else? (Be sure to make that next step clear.) Is it easy for me to take this action? Did you indicate how I can contact you if I need more information?

Review your written message by responding to these questions and issues. Engage the reader from the get-go for a more successful response. It is not about me, the writer, business or nonprofit; make it about YOU, the reader.

This Month’s Tip

Look at the layout and design. How does the digital message display on desktop, laptop, tablet and phone? Does an image occupy so much of the page that the reader has to scroll to read the content? Is there sufficient white space to give the eye a rest? Make your piece visually appealing.


Ready to bring the reader’s 5 W’s and How into focus? Let’s sharpen your communication to direct the reader appropriately. Contact me at 212.677.5770, set an appointment here or email me at

See also Orient Your Newsletter.

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