The last thing any writer wants to see is a deck that liberally and unnecessarily re-writes copy because the reviewer does not understand the purpose of the project or web writing best practices.
One of the major problems all content creators have is asking stakeholders to sign off on content. No matter how hard you may work to capture stakeholders’ stories, if they don’t like your style or they have a problem with your sentence construction, it all falls away.
What can you do to improve your stakeholders’ understanding of editorial etiquette?
3 Tips for Improving Editorial Etiquette
- Education: Stakeholders sometimes complain to our writers that they dislike their company’s website design. When this happens to me, I just shake my head and say, “Sorry, I can’t do anything about that.” It’s the same with brand voice and tone that is determined by the marketing department that we don’t have the ability to change.
- Educate stakeholders about who sets voice, tone and style. Explain that the content strategy and executive leadership dictates these elements, and that as the writer, your job is to follow it.
- Second, inform them that when you send them the content for review, their job is to factually review it. They don’t need to make line-by-line edits for grammar and sentence construction.
- Reminders: When you send stakeholders content, it’s a good time to remind them again that they are only fact checking the content. In the email and in the content document itself, clearly restate to stakeholders that their job is to factually edit, not to edit for style and grammar.
- Calm crisis management: Nancy and I always remark that part of running a content consultancy is knowing that stakeholders will not always be happy with the first draft of content. It’s just the way it is. So when stakeholders do not approve the first round, calmly talk to them about their concerns and how you might be able to improve the next draft. Remember, people want to be heard and understood. When you take in their comments and critiques, you may find their concerns are valid. But don’t panic. Stakeholders who aren’t happy with a first draft are par for the course.