As content marketing matures, brands are entering the world of publishing at a rapid rate. One of the most important roles in any publication or newsroom is the editor. A recent article at the Harvard Business Review blog discusses why.

Every Content Marketer Needs an Editor advises that brands need editors to improve the quality of their content and make it more enticing to consumers. Editing happens in two ways and often by people in two roles. It’s been my experience brands support one form of editing but often ignore the other.

Two types of editors

  • A copyeditor ensures your punctuation, spelling and grammar are correct. They also keep an eye out for jargon and semantics and try to eliminate clichés. In traditional publications and newsrooms, copyeditors ensure the writing – also called ‘copy’ – adheres to a specific style guide like the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook. These people are incredibly detail oriented. Your high-school grammar teacher was probably the first copyeditor you encountered. A copyeditor is also known as a subeditor.
  • An editor ensures the content is suitable for the audience. It’s their job to make sure your content services the needs of the audience and not the brand. Regardless if it’s written text, a video script, photographs or some other visual content, the editor looks at each piece of content individually and as part of a broader publication.  They consider how your content fits into the content marketing strategy, whether it’s supporting the content marketing mission statement, and if it’s good enough to attract an audience. In larger newsrooms and publications, a managing editor will oversee a team of editors and writers.

While many brands understand the benefits of a copyeditor, there’s not enough traditional editing in content marketing right now. To run a brand newsroom, both roles have to be clearly defined and operational.

Why editors are important for brand newsrooms

Writers often resist working with editors because they see it as a destructive role in the creative process. And, in many ways, it is. Inexperienced writers or writers without a journalism background view the editor as someone who ruins their work, tells them ‘no’ and takes the copy they’ve laboured over for hours and cuts it to the bone.

I’ve worked with editors for years and, yes, it can be painful and disappointing. But I also know an editor’s job is to help me get published and to make sure my content is delivering what the readers wants or needs. The end product is almost always better. Let’s be honest, I’d rather have my work published than to have my efforts go to waste.

Where brands fall down on editing

Too often, brands want to focus on their products or services and be the hero of their own stories. They want to broadcast their message in an effort to attract more prospects and customers. That may work for traditional advertising, but it doesn’t work for content marketing. Brand newsrooms have to tell stories about the customer and tell them from the customer’s point of view. No one wants to hear corporate spin or wade through a mess of corporate speak. Readers see very clearly your content is not for or about them and they won’t be back.

Where to find editing help

If you’re new to brand journalism or simply don’t have budget for a full-blown editorial team, it might not be practical to start hiring journalists. Still, that’s not an excuse to forgo the editing function. Relying on automated spell-check software doesn’t cut it. There are plenty of freelance copyeditors who work on a retainer arrangement. Hiring a copyeditor for a set number of hours every week or month will vastly improve the quality of your content for a relatively small investment.

If you don’t have the luxury of hiring a full-time editor, a marketing manager can fill this role as long as there’s a clear content mission statement and strategy in place. Another option is to have your writers edit each other’s work. This is a common arrangement for freelance writers who often provide editing functions for fellow colleagues.

Lastly, have a look at Jill Golden’s LinkedIn article titled, How to Edit Your Way to Quality Content. It’s loaded with good tips and practical advice.

Final thoughts on editing

If you’re not currently using an editor and a copyeditor in your brand newsroom, chances are your content is not as effective as it could be. You’re likely experiencing issues with quality and consistency. Many brands find it difficult to keep the focus on the customer. Without a strong editor in place, it’s far too easy to crank out content that no one wants to read and serves no purpose to your bottom line.

If you have questions about how to run an effective newsroom, get in touch. It’s a topic we take very seriously at Lush Digital Media and we’re happy to help.

By Sarah Mitchell

Image Credit: Nic McPhee at Flickr