How to Give Feedback on Marketing Content

This post was written by John White on Thu, 16 Jun 2011 04:28:51 +0000
Posted Under: marketing communications writer,marketing manager,process of writing,rapport with writer

Give your marketing communications writers feedback they can use. The more useful your input, the shorter the turnaround. And the smoother the dance.

Consider the dance of the review loop. Please.

For you, the marketing manager, the review loop is usually just a speed bump on the road to getting the piece published. You build it into your schedule, you circulate the drafts, you nag the reviewers, but most of the time you don’t stop to think about what’s really going on in a review loop:

You’re making sure that the marketing communications writer heard what you said and captured it correctly.

That’s important, and you’ve got a big stake in it.

Last week, Mark Nichol posted 10 tips for critiquing other people’s writing. I think his list applies more to friends reviewing one another’s work than to the client-vendor relationship, so I’ll supplement his 10 with four more.

  1. Don’t be shy. If the writer missed the point, let him know that he missed it. Use a sentence like “You’ve missed the point,” or “This paragraph misses the point.” That’s what happened, so just say it. Then tell him what the point is.
  2. Do it in writing, if you can; in a phone call, if you cannot. I vastly prefer written feedback to oral feedback. It means that the reviewer sees that something is wrong and wants to change it, and that she has made the mental effort to put it into words. Real-time, over-the-phone feedback sessions are a pain I endure when it looks like the only way to break a logjam in the schedule and get the project rolling again. They invariably go all over the map, so I record them and take copious notes.
  3. Use the words you want to see in print. If a sentence is wrong, change it yourself to more accurate language. Don’t worry about grammar, flow and consistency; the writer will clean it up if need be. This is your chance to pluck out of the writer’s head the incorrect language and replace it with the language you want. It’s easier on the entire process if you use the words you want
  4. Change actual text rather inserting comments. Assuming you’re using software like Microsoft Word with change tracking enabled, it’s easy to cross out actual text and write your own. In fact, it’s better than inserting comments, which are not always easy to see.  Writers do better with “Gradual, incremental investmentDollar-cost averaging is more suited to the long-term investor than is market timing…” than with an inserted comment like “This isn’t right. Please fix.”

The review loop is a dance between the marketing manager and the marketing communications writer. The more clearly you express the next steps, the smoother the dance.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: Eric Ward

 

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