Content Marketing: Misstakes arr Bad
Content marketing is hot right now, but unfortunately won very important stage in the process is often an afterthought, or even overlooked completely.
If “won” word in the opening paragraph didn’t totally give it away, that stage is editing the content before it goes out to the rest of the world.
And, although the tips in this blog post are geared toward written word content pieces such as whitepapers or blog posts, it’s just as important to edit slides in presentations or webinars, audio/visual content like video and podcasts, and other types of content in your overall strategic mix.
In my career, both here at MECLABS and as a freelance writer, I’ve been on both sides of the coin – edited by a variety of people when creating journalism pieces and writing for corporate clients, and I’ve worn the editor hat at other times.
To provide some insight into the importance of editing, and to offer tips on incorporating an editing stage in your content creation process, I reached out to two of the best I’ve worked with over my career.
During my freelance writing days, Amber Jones Barry, now a freelance editor, had the opportunity to wrestle with my monthly copy for a consumer magazine, and Brad Bortone, Senior Research Editor, MECLABS, gets his fingerprints on a lot of the MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments content you read, making all of us sound a little better in the process.
In fact, we have an excellent editorial staff here at MECLABS, with more than one person poring over every bit of content we publish.
Why make editing part of the content marketing process?
When asked how not editing content marketing material could hurt your marketing efforts, both Amber and Brad answered with, “credibility.”
Brad says, “Nothing kills credibility more than inaccuracies, or even outright errors. Factual mistakes, grammatical errors, unnecessary length or even minor typos – if any of these are present in your marketing, customers will notice, which could make them question the validity and professionalism of your brand.”
He adds, “If it appears you don’t care about the delivery of your messaging, why should they invest time in reading it? Chances are, people will remember your mistakes more than your messages, leading them to seek out other options.”
About the importance of editing, Amber states, “Editing is a crucial part of the publication process. Without it, it’s easy for writing to have minor or major errors appear in the finished work. If a piece isn’t edited, it’s inevitable that there will be something wrong with it, which will take away from the effect of the overall piece.”
Different types of editing
There are actually three different types of editing for the written word:
– Developmental Editing
According to Brad, “Developmental editing involves the organization and delivery of content and messaging. This includes suggesting formats to communicate the message, such as using bullet points instead of paragraphs; rewriting and restructuring copy — even moving entire paragraphs and sentences to improve flow; identifying content gaps or fallacies; communicating these items with writers; and deleting superfluous content.”
– Copy Editing
“Copy editing goes a level deeper than developmental editing. It focuses on issues with consistency, clarity, style, grammar and usage, and sentence structure,” Amber says.
“Proofreading comes in at the final stages and is considered a final polish, making only essential changes, such as for grammar or punctuation,” Amber states.
Brad adds, “Depending on the size of your company or department, these tasks [proofreading and copy editing] could be performed by one person wearing multiple hats or by separate teams.”
The 30,000-foot view
The three types of editing listed above are based on written word content, but the first step in any formalized editing process is implementing editorial oversight.
You might hear, “think like a publisher,” when reading about content marketing. Part of this concept is creating an editorial calendar that determines not only when certain content marketing pieces should be published and in what format – blog post, video, infographics, et al. – but also, maybe more importantly, outlines the topics covered and how those topics should be handled.
Without editorial oversight, your entire content strategy can be undone with an ill-advised blog post, or maybe a cheeky Facebook poll that, in hindsight after the comments start piling up, turns out to be more than just cheeky.
Implementing an editorial process
So editing is important for written word content marketing pieces. How do you add that step to your content process?
“This would largely depend on the size of your marketing department,” Brad explains. “Ultimately, editing should be an ongoing part of the entire process. If content is written and developed in a vacuum, only to be handed off for revision at the end of the process, the editor must spend additional time becoming familiar with the material before going through and making necessary improvements.”
In considering larger content projects — think of an extensive whitepaper — Brad says making editing an integral part of the project can improve the overall project flow.
He states, “Editors should work with content creators from the outset of the process, helping to create concise, impactful messaging that will need little revision as the project nears its delivery date.”
Amber agrees that editing is a multi-part process, and says, “Ideally, editing should take place at every major stage of a piece, from creation to being published. Once the piece is written, the first editing round should include making sure the content makes sense, flows correctly and no other information is needed. Once the content is set, it needs another round of editing to clean it up for grammar, style, etc. Right before a piece is published, a final edit helps catch any typos or errors made during last-minute changes.”
How many eyeballs?
Both experts agreed that editing content is a multistage process that takes into account developmental editing, copy editing and a final proofreading. With that, can one editor handle the entire role, or should more than one person handle the different editing roles?
Amber explains, “The more eyes, the better — in any stage. If you have people on hand who can help check copy, use them. They may catch things you missed. This is especially true if you wrote the copy. It’s difficult to edit yourself because you’re so close to the information. Other people can point out thoughts that don’t seem complete or questions that arose while they read.”
She continues, “If you don’t have extra readers available, read over it again yourself after taking some time away from it. Doing a read-through right after you’ve read it rarely does any good. You’re tired of reading it, you think you’ve already caught everything, and you tend to glaze over. Let it sit for at least a few hours, but a day or more is even better.”
A bit of clever non-editing …
I have to credit my editor, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, for the idea that led to my introductory paragraph – here’s one of his tweets from when we were looking for a copy editor:
Hope you caught that one. We’re pretty sure Daniel added that on purpose, but we don’t edit our tweets … yet.