Feelings and White Papers – A Deadly Combination

This post was written by John White on Thu, 08 Dec 2011 14:37:58 +0000
Posted Under: rapport with writer,review loop,vetting writers

Marketing communication managers shouldn’t worry about hurting their writers’ feelings. This is business.

White papers and feelings - a bad combinationStop and think: Have you ever said to a marketing communications writer,

“I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

If so, it’s very nice of you, but it shouldn’t be necessary. Marcomm writers don’t have feelings. That’s why they’re writers.

A writer with a fragile ego?

Maybe you haven’t put it quite that way. Maybe you’ve said, “The team and I went over the white paper you wrote, and we made a few small changes here and there – nothing big, really, just some minor tweaks,” or “Have a look at our comments. They’re pretty straightforward,” which means you made a zillion changes. Or maybe you didn’t say anything and just made all the changes yourself because you didn’t want to cause a fuss.

If you’re trying to trivialize the changes so that you don’t trigger additional charges for a rewrite of the white paper, that’s one thing. That’s business.

But if you’re trying to avoid bruising your writer’s fragile ego, you should probably adopt a different mindset. Or a different writer.

This isn’t personal; it’s about a work product that is either adequate or inadequate. You don’t need to be rude, but you should be ruthless with your writer, because you’re the one on the hook for copy that falls short.

As I’ve mentioned before,

Writers don’t write. They suggest.

Part of your job as a marketing manager is to reconcile their suggestions to realities your writers do not see: technology changes, market dynamics, layout, tone, fit, office politics and so on.

Don’t worry about hurting their feelings simply because the white paper needs more work.

Good writers can deal with it. Good writers are made of fire.

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: ncanup

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