Sure, I’m biased: I’m a professional writer. Naturally, I believe a skilled hand is required for everything from sub-editing pitch presentations to writing monthly print magazines. I get that we all communicate through language and we’re entitled to use it in our own way, but there’s a difference between feeling confident putting together a PowerPoint and feeling confident writing a considered, articulate, well-structured article. So here’s an article (whether it’s considered, articulate and well structured is another matter) on the importance of professional writers and editors when writing for companies and brands.
Google’s said it enough times: quality reigns supreme. Its robots can tell when copy is useful, relevant and not just a load of spammy waffle. Quality makes for read-to-the-end, shareable content. Shareable means visits and links. Visits and links make Google happy. So basically if you write crap, that crap will exist on your site, festering in its own mediocrity, gaining you nothing and wasting the time and money you spent on writing it.
Google also likes fresh content, so you’ll want a dedicated writer or editor to keep on top of it. Got a company blog? Perfect – hand it over to your designated editorial person and let them devise a plan for it, share the content on your social channels and drive extra traffic to your site.
These mistakes are proof that if you don’t have a sub-editor on board, bad things will happen to you.
Sub-editors are not editors’ assistants. You will rue the day you try to suggest such a thing to one of these eagle-eyed grammar buffs. They are in place to ensure that nothing gets published that isn’t perfect. This isn’t proof-reading, either; this is sense checking, rewriting whole sections of copy if the flow is wrong, verifying all the facts, writing the headlines and standfirsts, and loads of other behind-the-scenes stuff. If you don’t have one in your team, make sure you know one who can freelance for you when you have big writing projects. Trust me: you will need one. Nobody can sub themselves.
Most people shrug and assume the copy on a presentation, email or even website they’ve written ‘will do’. And maybe your readers either won’t notice or won’t care. But there are plenty of people out there, yours truly included, who cannot abide a misplaced apostrophe or a spelling error. That doesn’t mean everyone in your company has to be a perfect writer – it just means you have to put measures in place for work to be checked. Because you never know who’ll be reading – a potential client, for example – and what their bugbears are.
The ability to write concisely is a gift that few possess. It will depend on a company or brand’s tone of voice, but as a general rule, punchy is good. This is particularly true when it comes to social. With most of us accessing Twitter and Facebook via mobile, 90 characters is the magic number to ensure your posts don’t get truncated. So you need a skilled so-and-so who can efficiently and engagingly communicate a message in just a few words – one who’s already conveniently trained in writing attention-grabbing headlines.
Once you’ve got a self-confessed words pervert in house, you can use them to spread the language love. As well as writing and editing a bunch of the stuff you create for your company and clients, you can ask them to give mini workshops and training sessions to staff, as well as devise a style guide for use across the business.
So if you’re regularly producing copy, either internally or for clients, get yourself a professional writer and/or sub-editor in. What you write represents your company – it’s basically a window into your team and the standards you hold – so it has to be as good as you are.