How to Treat Writers and Editors


Historically, writers and editors have been comic figures, ye olde ink-stained wretches, necessary evils, people so lacking in life skills that they're reduced to trying to earn a living by putting words together, something anyone, even a child (and certain birds) can do. Is it any wonder that they've always been poorly regarded and treated contemptuously? So why should consultancies and businesses value writers and editors and treat them well?

Because they can make you money by letting the world know how smart you are and how well you do whatever it is you do. So what does it mean to treat your writers and editors well?

1. Try a little tenderness.

Writers do get weary of being dumped on and they get dumped on a lot. So do editors. Most people, in my experience, are quick to criticize but slow to praise. Why is that? You like to be praised. Everyone does. It's a human thing and despite what you may think, writers and editors are human. So say something nice about their work, even if it's just, "Wow! You sure can spell." A little praise goes a long way.

2. Keep them working.

In bad economic times, businesses cut overhead, generally by laying people off. But if your income depends upon generating new business and retaining the old by getting the word out about your firm's thought leadership, getting rid of the writers and editors who communicate what you do to people who may become your clients doesn't make much business sense. And as everyone knows, hiring people back is more expensive than simply keeping them employed. And speaking of money . . . 

3. Pay them.

It's become increasingly popular to reduce the pay of writers, especially freelancers. Content on the internet is overwhelmingly free, so the pay of the people who generate that content has been adjusted accordingly. The result is an awful lot of bad, amateurish writing as the professionals open bed and breakfasts in Vermont. Consequently, the quality of communication declines. You disagree? When was the last time you actually read a white paper in its entirety? 'Nuff said.

4. And don't forget the editors.

Perhaps because writers can post their own stories and blogs without an editor's help, the editing role is now widely considered close to superfluous. Again, that's short-sighted. When content is created in a vacuum, when there's no sounding board for the writer's ideas, that content often becomes hollow and self-indulgent. Writers, like most everyone, love the sound of their own voices. The editor's job is to love the idea of communicating to a wider audience. Writers and editors need each other. And firms that promote their thought leadership need both.

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