Did you ever feel that somebody was tinkering with your perfection? Have you ever hired a writer who felt that way? Worse yet, did somebody else in the review loop complain that somebody was tinkering with their perfection?
Perfection and the crowded kitchen
Sometimes there are more people than just you, the writer and the subject matter expert working on your content. Sometimes outside forces like agencies or other marketing managers get involved in the process as well. That can make your content kitchen feel crowded.
Your writers shouldn’t feel entitled to have the last word in the piece. Frankly, though, the more cooks there are in the kitchen, the less anybody (especially the writers) feels ownership. That can make it more difficult to get what you need from them.
Several problems develop as the kitchen gets crowded:
- People become proprietary about their ideas and text. Let’s hope your writer is more professional than that. But some of the other participants in your content process (C-suite comes to mind) may resent attempts to tinker with their perfection.
- With each round of revisions, people have a bit less patience for the process and wish it were over. Their comments and changes often reflect this. Perfection starts looking further away instead of closer.
- After a while, it becomes difficult to see who owns the piece and, therefore, who is responsible for cleaning up the final product.
In it for the long haul
Here’s an example:
A marketing manager hires a PR firm to interview clients and capture information on an emerging technology trend. The objective is to produce a white paper. The PR firm then hires a writer.
Two weeks later, the PR firm and the writer have a solid draft based on the information from the interviews. The firm sends it to the marketing manager, who circulates it internally. People in the client organization change it six ways from Tuesday, such that it’s hardly recognizable anymore. Then the marketing manager returns it to the PR firm.
The PR firm hands the draft off to the writer.
“I wrote almost none of this,” she says. “Why do you want me to work on it?”
“Because you’re the writer,” says the firm. “You need to be in it for the long haul.”
Tough break for the writer, especially if it’s a fixed-bid project. There could be a lot of unpaid hours ahead for the writer.
In spite of the fact that the writer doesn’t really “own” it anymore, and that it little resembles the first draft, a professional writer will suck it up and keep working on it. If the client is making changes this radical, somebody upstream must have misunderstood the original intent, and everybody needs to help get the final version out the door.
Moral: Everybody’s perfection gets tinkered with sooner or later. You can’t have thin skin about it.
Unless you have access to a dedicated, in-house editor, you should make it an explicit requirement that the writer you hire will see the project through, regardless of who makes changes.
Good marketing content writers don’t worry about having their perfection tinkered with.
photo credit: xmacex