Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tips for the new corporate editor

A couple of weeks ago I asked through this blog, through the IABC's MemberSpeak and through CiB's freelance forum for tips for newbie editors that I could use in hand-outs for one of the bespoke courses I run.

Nothing came back via the blog! The IABC forum produced one response, but these were the tips that came in from my CiB colleagues:

Set clear objectives

Be absolutely clear about your objective (or the message originator's objective) for writing any article or message. What do you want people to do, think or feel in response? Then focus clearly and concisely on that when you write. Too often in big companies, the real message is hidden two paras from the bottom of a page of waffle - and beyond the point where many people have stopped reading.
Brian Johnson, Communications Contractor

Think impact – and not just in the words

Involve your the designer at an early stage. You must present an holistic approach for a communication to be effective. Designers think visually and will bring a new dimension to your work.
Phil Steed.......not surprisingly, a designer

Two for the price of one

Don't try and be too clever. Too many of us think that we are being witty, urbane and ironic, when we are not. Keep it simple. And ignore anyone who tells you that you cannot ever start a sentence with And or But. This is something that too many people dimly remember from their long lost schooldays as not acceptable. If it's good enough for The Economist or The New Yorker, it's good enough for your newsletter.

Mike Thompson, communications specialist

Set deadlines – and stick to them

Set your deadline a day or two before the point where you really need to be ready in order to give yourself enough time/some flexibility. Ensure everyone in the approvals loop understand that it is up to them to come back to you by the deadline, not up to you to endlessly keep chasing all of them. Warn them clearly of the deadline and tell them that if they do not come back by the deadline, you will assume they are happy for the articles to appear unchanged.

Tell them that the deadline given really is the real deadline, not just an initial one that can be ignored for a few days pending the final one. Say at the outset that it will be respected. It is not a movable feast. f someone in the approval loop will be on leave they must make alternative arrangements for someone to sign-off on their behalf.
Lilian El-Doufani, writer & PR consultant

Check your facts

The three most important attributes of a story are: 1) Accuracy. 2) Accuracy. 3) Accuracy. If you get someone's name wrong it's the only thing about your beautifully written story anyone will remember.
Louise Birkett, Consultant, Leapfrog Associate........and law specialist

It’s all about meaning.........so when you’ve drafted some copy:

Get another person to read your copy aloud to back to you. The difference between what you think you've communicated, and what others perceive can be amazing.
Carol Harris, writer and pig breeder

Stamp of approval

When the newsletter goes on the approvals round, state up front that those approving it can only make changes where there are factual inaccuracies. It stops everyone putting their stamp and personal style on the text for the sake of it.
Carole Seawert, Copywriter

Be prepared

Make sure you have some stories and features in reserve for the times when somebody pulls a story or feature at the last minute.
Sue Williams, Editor and co-ordinator

All of these are freely shared....especially with the person who felt I was taking people's good ideas for my personal gain.......!

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