It’s a fact of corporate life: Finding the time to write high-caliber copy for blogs, bylined articles, press releases (the list goes on) is exceedingly difficult. Think of all the things coming at you: Emails, projects, reports, meetings. (So. Many. Meetings.) When would you fit it in?
The truth is writing is a quiet, time-consuming process. Sure, it’s possible, and sometimes necessary, to write in the margins of your work life. Those moments, however, are best for short pieces. A dash-it-off email response. A filler social post. A brief status update.
But a killer thought-leadership piece that nails your brand voice and gets the right message across?
That takes a solid chunk of uninterrupted time. In fact, it takes several chunks of uninterrupted time.
It’s why many companies source full-time writers outside the business. But what’s the best way to go? There’s more than one option.
The Freelancer: Has Time, But No Team
Whenever I’ve led in-house PR and marketing teams, we hired outside writers who had the luxury of time to focus on the craft. Sometimes this approach worked out reasonably well. Other times, we found ourselves significantly rewriting the draft to get it to where we’d want it to be.
Of course, in trying to capture a brand’s messaging, voice, and purpose, freelance writers face a steep challenge. After all, they aren’t embedded in the organization, so they don’t have access to the internal chatter that helps ingrain key messages. They don’t have the benefit of institutional knowledge.
Many of them are also working alone. It’s hard to research, write, revise, and edit your own work. So the results aren’t always up to snuff.
Here’s what we need to acknowledge: Writing is not a solo venture. Creating killer content requires a team.
The Team Approach: The Secret to “A+” Content
I had the benefit of maturing as a writer and editor before making the leap to PR and marketing. With a degree in journalism and more than a decade of experience in the newsroom, I truly understand the difference an editorial team makes.
It’s all too easy to collapse the writing process into three simple steps:
1. Read a creative brief
2. Type up a fully formed article
3. Gain instant love from the reader
In reality, it doesn’t happen that way.
Writing is a far more complex process than many of us believe. There are no shortcuts. No one – even the most talented among us – can spill words onto the page in a stream-of-consciousness way and create perfect copy on the first try. Writing is a thoughtful, iterative, revisionist, multi-person process. It takes time, effort, and editors to get a piece to just where it needs to be.
As I see it, there are six essential steps for delivering content that doesn’t require our clients to spend time revising our work.
- Deep research. To write an on-point article, we read beyond the creative brief. We conduct extensive research to develop a deeper understanding of the topic, the latest trends, your products, and your company.
- Plenty of thinking time. This crucial step is all too often unrecognized. Many people don’t even “count” it as part of the process, even though writing can’t happen without it.
- A horrible, no good, terrible first draft. At last! Pen to paper. Or, more accurately, fingers dancing on keyboards. Some start with an outline; others spew a mix of nonsense and facts. Either way, the result is the same: A first draft you’re too embarrassed to show anyone.
- Revisions. Lots of them. Ah. My favorite part. Polishing. New writers (looking at you, high school and college students) and non-writers usually skip this step. But this is where the hard work of crafting a narrative actually begins.
- Copyediting with a critical eye – just not the writer’s. A good copyeditor will read critically for context, clarity, accuracy, flow, and voice. They’ll fact-check too.
- Proofreading – by a third eye. Who better to catch misspelled words, em dashes disguised as hyphens, and the frustrating typo? A detail-oriented reader who can’t keep themselves from debating the merits (or not) of the Oxford comma.
Version A is this six-step process come to life. We put a team of writers, editors, and proofreaders on every project, and we follow an editorial process modeled on the one used in newsrooms.
The end result from us? A killer thought-leadership piece that gets it right the first time –authentic, market-ready content that’s true to your brand, message, and voice.
The end result for our clients? The luxury of time. So stop worrying about when you’re going to write that white paper, case study, or newsletter. Focus your attention on the strategic, visionary work, knowing the Version A team is working right alongside you to cover your content needs.