Hire a Writer, Get a Project Manager in the Bargain

This post was written by John White on Mon, 08 Feb 2010 10:05:58 +0000
Posted Under: managing writing project,rapport with writer

Even after you’ve hired the writer, writing projects don’t just happen. Somebody needs to move them along, and it’s usually your writer (if you’ve picked a good one).

Nothing works because you want it to. You have to make the damned thing work.

-Thomas Edison (I think)

I saw that several years ago in a quotation-of-the-day calendar, and it has always stuck with me.

It applies to writing, doesn’t it? Writers realize that good content doesn’t emerge from their pen or keyboard because they want it to; they have to make it come out.

On a larger scale, as a marketing manager you should know that few of the projects you commission – white papers, Web content, case studies, technical articles – happen because you want them to; you (or somebody) has to make them happen. Facts need checking, reviewers need reminding, editors need prodding, interviewees need birddogging, text needs proofreading, final versions need approving…

Who does most of this?

Would you believe your writer does?

There’s a lot more project management to business writing than most people – including writers – realize. There are also a lot of steps you take for granted inside the organization on the path from idea to a deliverable, and in a writing project, most of them end up in the writer’s purview because nobody else handles them in a timely manner otherwise.

Paul Lagasse posted recently on the diplomacy that freelance writers need to exercise when their management of a project pulls them into onsite client meetings. Most marketing managers value writers for the “bricks” of good content, while overlooking the “mortar” of good project management.

One more Edison quotation to wrap up:

I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.

Your organization’s content is no accident either, and sometimes it’s your writer who contributes the extra work to make the content happen.

John White of venTAJA Marketing posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it.

photo credit: wikimedia

Reader Comments

Hi, John —

Thanks for the shout-out! I’ve recommended several of your posts to my clients as a way to encourage them to use me more effectively and efficiently on freelance assignments.

Way back in the early days of my blog I wrote about where writers “fit” into a collaborative project such as a report or proposal: (http://www.avwrites.com/wordpress/?p=8). I think it touches on some of the excellent points that you raise here, namely that writers can bring a “big picture” perspective to projects.

The bricks-and-mortar analogy is effective. Mind if I borrow that when talking to clients (with proper attribution, of course)?

#1 
Written By Paul Lagasse on February 9th, 2010 @ 6:56

Paul:

Yes, that’s fine.

I find that the fit varies greatly from one organization to the next, and the successful writer is the one who can adapt.

#2 
Written By John White on February 9th, 2010 @ 8:04