How To Get The Best Out Of Your Writer?
As the title suggests, you are getting someone else to do your writing, typically a content writer or an agency who take on such assignments. And the reason that you are outsourcing your needs is either because you do not have the necessary skills available in-house to create professional material, or, you would like to give your collateral the business edge that will be of value in a sales situation.
Here’s how you could get the best out of your investment.
A clear brief is half the job done
As a first step, give her a clear brief on exactly what you would like to achieve out of the document. This will include all that you would like to convey and who it is targeted at.
Very often, a brief is mistaken for a dump, quite literally so. The hapless writer finds herself at the receiving end of tons of information – voluminous reports, PPT slides, newspaper clips, excerpts from sundry sources and such – most of it not relevant to the job on hand. And she is expected to wade through and make sense. This, in turn, leads to several iterations just to identify the gaps and get the facts in place. A waste of precious time.
Instead, do take some time and diligently complete the template calling for information or respond to the specific queries raised by the writer. This will entail culling out information from various internal sources and making it intelligible to the writer. This phase is critical and time well spent. After all, the quality of ingredients or raw material directly impact and determine the quality of the end product – be it in the kitchen or the manufacturing process.
It’s all in the background
Give adequate background, related information and samples that will serve as a benchmark and aid the writer in her efforts at arriving at a cohesive and concise piece of document or communication. Oftentimes, a document is disjointed and incomplete owing to missing pockets of information. This not only defeats the purpose of the exercise but also reflects adversely on the company.
One point contact as facilitator and go-between
It’s a good practice to have one person to whom the writer can address queries and that person in turn farms out the requests internally and collates the information. This works for two reasons: one, as an insider, he is familiar with the hierarchy and processes within the organization, and two, he is in a better position to coax and cajole his colleagues into submitting timely and meaningful responses.
Objective feedback is vital for improvement
Have a review mechanism in place that fosters honest and objective feedback, a healthy criticism of the writer’s output. To be sure, the writer is not infallible and is prone to errors of omission. This could happen either because the writer was not able to grasp certain nuances of the business or owing to some gaps in the information originally supplied. Remember, the writer is not the ‘subject matter expert’ and the onus is on the client to provide the relevant inputs.
One common refrain that one hears by way of feedback is that a given piece of documentation ‘lacks punch’. This kind of feedback is very generic and does not tell the writer which part of the document that needs to be rephrased or given the necessary gloss. It will be in both, the client and the writer’s interests to point out precise areas that call for improvement.
A little bit of praise never hurts anybody
Sure, the writer is being paid for the assignment but everybody craves for that little bit of praise, a pat on the back. If you genuinely find that the finished product is in keeping with your expectations, it will not be out of place to commend the writer and let her know as much. At the end of the day, everybody likes to be appreciated for a job well done. And this gesture will drive the writer to do an even better job in future.