How Not To Work With Writers

Imagine a photographer taking executive portraits at a corporate site. The client asks:

  • “What should I wear?”
  • “Why can’t we take this photo on my surfboard? I think that will demonstrate that I’m a risk taker.”
  • “We’ve changed our minds about the head shots. Can we do a couple of sessions to get candids on the executive jet instead? (Isn’t one revision included in your price?)”

Sound ridiculous? How about these?

Imagine the same executives making a pitch for funding. The would be entrepreneur gives only vague answers to panelists’ questions

  • “Who are your customers?” (“I don’t know.”)
  • “What’s the background of your management team?” (“Can I just give you a head count and get back to you later on who they are?”)
  • “Can you explain your business model?” (“Well, we’re going to sell stuff.”)

Ridiculous, again, right?

How about this request – an actual one from a writing client?

    “Create a presentation that summarizes ‘what we know’ and ‘what we don’t know’.”

Artists in commercial settings are often accused of wanting to subordinate business needs to their creative vision or process. Yet it is sometimes our clients who resist the discipline of business communications.
What I gather from years of working with business professionals is that many individuals don’t understand texts as objects the way they understand photographs as objects.

So a white paper is conceived as a polished capture of thought rather than something that must be engineered, like a building or a piece of software.

When a writer or editor asks …

  • “Who is the audience?”
  • “What will the reader use this for?”
  • “Is this intended for the Web or to be read on paper?”
  • “What will the context be? Is this a standalone document or part of a collection?”

… the intent is not to shift our work burden to you!

The answer to those questions determines everything from document length to the visual presentation of the information and the format for including citations.

That is where our expertise as language experts comes in to serve your business.

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