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How to Write Good: Using a Team Approach to Perfect Copy

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 by Ruth

Our teamwork is choreographed for your satisfaction.

Our teamwork is choreographed for your satisfaction.

My son sent me this list the other day and it made me laugh.

How to Write Good*

  • The passive voice is to be avoided.
  • Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  • It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  • Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  • Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  • Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
  • Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  • Avoid Alliteration. Always.
  • One should never generalize.
  • Be more or less specific.

It occurred to me that as a professional writer, I’m so thankful to have a team of exceptionally qualified editors and copyeditors who review my work.

At the Content Bureau, we approach every project as a team. As a client, you’ll interact with the lead writer (who also manages most projects), but behind the scenes is a group of highly specialized editors and copyeditors who make my work amazing:

Writer. Your main point of contact is the lead writer. The writer is also the project manager, interviewer, and scheduler. It’s the lead writer’s job to understand the scope of work, and ensure that the Content Bureau has the necessary resources on the project. Lead writers review all the source materials provided, then conduct any SME (subject matter expert) interviews. They’re the content experts, and they write the first drafts. Then, before you even see a draft, they’ll enlist the help of an…

Editor. Content Bureau editors ensure that the storyline is clear and persuasive, content is presented in the most logical order, and there are no holes in logic. For your message to come through loud and clear, your copy must be crisp, compelling, and concise. Editors also ensure that we’re using a variety of sentence structures and language—so the style of copy is as interesting as the subject—and they help to craft succinct, attention-generating headlines. They review footnotes and check references, ensuring they adhere to your style guide. In other words, they’re an absolutely critical part of our methodology! Editors deliver their inline edits back to the lead writer, who incorporates or rejects them before you see a first draft. You then review the draft, and work with the writer to finalize the copy. However, before you see the final asset, the writer turns to the…

Copyeditor. Our copyeditors are tasked with a project’s perfection. At this point, there’s no change to language—the copyeditor is rooting out typos and any grammar inconsistencies created throughout the content-development process. For projects that involve layout, our copyeditors take a pre- and post-layout pass to ensure that the final asset is perfectly polished.

At the Content Bureau, it takes a team to create perfect copy. In fact, I need to run this blog post by our editorial team now. We’ll see how it turns out.

Editorial note: Nice job, Ruth! Draft 2 is looking great. And a gentle heads-up: “Prepositions are not words to end sentences with” is not an actual rule, a fact that many of our readers have cottoned onto. And you also can split infinitives until the cows happily wander home—for that, too, is a myth. Stay tuned for the STYLE GUIDE THROWDOWN: CMS VS. AP.



*The set of rules was written by Frank L. Visco and originally published in the June 1986 issue of Writers’ Digest.

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Marketing in the Time of Chaos

Thursday, September 21st, 2017 by Laurel

Seriously, Nivea? The times, they are chaotic—to say the least. The importance of social media in our daily lives means that  public response to events of all kinds—political, artistic, market-based—is swift and loud. What does this mean for marketers and content creators? Recently, a client asked for my opinion on a marketing campaign they were […]

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Who Hires and Manages the Content Marketing Agency—Corporate Marketing or the Business Unit?

Thursday, August 31st, 2017 by Stacy

Like many creative services companies, the Content Bureau works with tech and financial services companies that have corporate marketing departments wielding lots of centralized control; and we also work with companies that are almost completely decentralized—where the individual business units can produce whatever marketing content they want. Which of these organizational structures leads to the […]

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Three Summer Activities to Keep You in the Game

Monday, August 7th, 2017 by Laurel

It’s August and officially the dog days of summer. Everyone is either leaving for vacation, on vacation, or just back from vacation, and nothing’s really getting done in the office. But instead of waiting till work shifts back into gear, here are three things you can do right now that will help you personally and professionally. […]

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Avoid the Pitfalls of Online Research for Stats and Surveys

Friday, July 21st, 2017 by Chris

With just a few keystrokes and clicks in Google, a world of research, statistics, and studies are available to bolster white papers, bylined articles, and blog posts. Unfortunately, the explosion of online content has made sourcing this research a needle-in-the-haystack exercise. Unless the stat you want to use is in a news article from a […]

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Earning Trust in a Post-Truth Age

Thursday, June 15th, 2017 by Eric

We used to say the truth was slippery. If we could never quite grasp it, still we believed it was out there somewhere, swimming the currents of events, perspective, and time. And as slippery as it might have been, getting at the truth mattered. These days, by contrast, truth is not only more difficult than […]

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Don’t Fear the Editor: An Expert Support Team in One Professional

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 by Lisa S.

You’re a marketing expert, not a writer. In any case, whatever your job title, odds are good that you don’t exactly look forward to handing your writing over to an editor. Maybe it’s the memory of a particular red-pen-wielding third-grade teacher, or a particularly embarrassing typo in an important presentation. Or maybe you’re just a […]

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Naming Matters: Eschew the Fancy “E”

Thursday, May 11th, 2017 by Laurel

  I was traveling on a train recently and I found myself staring at the station sign at Bay Pointe, the name of a new housing development. Is it pronounced “bay point” or “bay point-ee” or “bay point-ay?” I wondered. Who decided on that spelling? What’s the deal with that Fancy E? Adding that superfluous […]

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Purple Throwback Thursday: 5 Things Content Marketers Can Learn from Prince

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 by Kate

The beautiful Purple One is, sadly, gone. His most enduring legacy will be his virtuoso guitar playing followed by fabulous showmanship in a killer wardrobe. But there are other ways Prince left his mark, and content marketers could learn a thing or two from him in our own work. Stories and visual prose are more […]

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6 Best Practices for Working With an Outside Content Provider

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 by Eric

I’ve been creating marketing content for clients small and large for more than 20 years. Most of the projects I’ve worked on have been enjoyable and even fun. Occasionally, though, things have turned south, putting an unpleasant taste in the mouths of everyone involved—client and content provider alike. To optimize the return on your investment […]

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