The Value of the Style Guide
It goes without saying that you want your brand’s communications to speak in a consistent manner as well as reflect core values and personality. Assuming a writer will immediately know your voice inside and out is a mistake — even the most intuitive writers appreciate a helping hand. If you don’t already have a brand style guide for your business, create one, even if it’s simple.
A style guide is a document that outlines brand voice and tone; key words that encapsulate the mood/feel of the brand; and specific ways of spelling (such as e-mail or email, 7 or seven, oz. or ounce, copyright symbols, etc) — basically anything brand-specific that you want to reinforce.
A good style guide is an amazing asset, it’s something you can send out to anyone that’s working in a writing or marketing capacity in your company, ensuring any content that’s created stays on point, across the board.
The Style Guide, the assignment and the deadline become the basis of the expectations for the writer and their boss. Asking whether these expectations were met becomes the basis of how a manager reviews the writer.
Shaping Ideas Together
Providing great direction not only helps a writer understand your project clearly, but it can also cut down on the editing process significantly.
A talented writer can certainly take anything and run with it, but by giving them a solid creative brief, examples and/or access to related materials, there’s a good chance they’ll knock it out of the park in round one.
Alternately, it’s also okay if you are unsure what you need and want the writer to take lead on the direction — just be sure to sit down for a brainstorm session with them first.
A writer can help your strategy and brand voice come to life vibrantly, but hitting the nail on the head is a somewhat collaborative process. At the end of the day, make sure the writer knows that your door is always open for questions and feedback throughout the project — communication is everything!
Productive Praise & Criticism
It’s easy to get frustrated when what you are trying to say doesn’t seem to be sinking in. Writers need the right mindset and tools to craft their content — they are creatives after all.
If you’ve already gone through the tips above, and they still haven’t hit the mark, giving an honest critique doesn’t need to be a negative experience for either of you.
Balance what you like about their work against what you need to criticize.
Giving them solid examples of what’s working vs. what isn’t is the more democratic way of getting things on track.
However, in the end, if it feels like it’s not a fit, don’t be afraid to cut your losses.
Finding a writer that gels with you and your brand is a bit like finding the perfect partner — you might have a couple awkward first dates before you know he/she is “the one.”
That said, in the hiring process, an in-depth discussion about what you want, what they want and their experience in the type of writing you are looking for is absolutely key!
Vettanna CEO, Jennifer Flaa, reminds us that starting early and often with praise is the best way to make your expectations known, motivate people and create loyal, happy, hard working teams.