When you hire a marketing communications writer, her responsibilities should include a final, pre-publication look at the piece, just before the train leaves the station. Your responsibilities should should include giving her that opportunity.
Marketing writers don’t write; they suggest. You don’t need to apologize for changes you make to drafts, but you owe it to yourself to give your copy – once it has traveled the long and winding road to final format – to your writer for a final scan.
One writer did a rush job for us last week, hammering very rough copy into a product datasheet, FAQ and sales teaser. She also added a lot of good content and figured out how to make the pieces tell our story, much better than it had occurred to us to do.
All of the copy ran the gantlet here, and everybody had revisions to make. A couple of the sales and marketing managers had misgivings about running it past the writer one last time before we sent the pieces to print – “What if her nose gets out of joint over the changes we’ve made?” – but I argued that it would be silly not to let her go over them. “What’s a marketing communications writer for?” I asked rhetorically.
I sent her PDFs with our revisions on Wednesday afternoon, and she had returned embedded comments – don’t forget you need more than just the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to make those – by Thursday morning. Among the things she noted:
- Two sentences with missing words – Somebody was writing too fast.
- Two occurrences of “Best-in-class” in adjoining paragraphs – This was a qualifier we had added. She pointed out, “This phrase adds nothing, and may even detract from the technical value of the piece.”
- Three clunky sentences that she re-plumbed to make more sense.
- A hail of phone numbers in our company information box – “People who have this datasheet in their hand will need just one big, fat toll-free number.”
- Disclaimer language for mentioning other companies’ trademarks – Without a phalanx of lawyers poring over ever sentence we publish, we sometimes forget about fine points like this.
She told me it took her less than a half-hour to review and make comments: thirty minutes our marketing communications writer invested in making us look good. She also mentioned that she always offers her clients a pre-publication review of content, even for projects on which she has not worked.
“Most clients don’t take me up on it,” she noted. “I don’t know why not.”
Do you give your writer this opportunity? You’re leaving money on the table if you don’t.