At his blog Writing, Clear and Simple, Roy Jacobsen has a great post on figuring the cost of a piece of writing and balancing that cost against the value to your reader. He writes:
Assume you’re writing an email message that you’ll send to a company distribution list. The message isn’t long, so let’s say it takes five minutes to read. Only five minutes; that’s no big deal, right?
Well, how big is the distribution list? 100 people? In that case, if we assume the value of their time averages $60/hour, your single email costs the company five dollars per person, or $500. (That is, ($60/12)*100.)
Now, add on a 10 page whitepaper that you’ve attached (because it contains valuable background information). How long does it take to read and digest that?
We haven’t added the cost of your time and resources here, but remember that there’s no multiplier effect magnifying those costs. (This analysis also disregards the cost of the delivery channel, which might be significant.)
You see, the cost of even a little thing like an email can add up to a sum larger than you expected.
This week, read the rest of Roy's article and follow his closing advice:
Before you begin writing, ask whether the value of the content outweighs the cost. Think about it: How much time do you spend sorting out the really valuable kernels from all the email chaff in your inbox? Multiply that amount of time across your organization, and then decide whether you want to create more kernels of value, or chaff.