Understanding the message and the audience
‘Editors are people who sort the wheat from the chaff . . . and then print the chaff.’
It’s meant to be an insult. But if that editor has discovered the target audience is chaff readers rather than wheat readers, then that publication has already taken a giant stride towards success before a single word is written.
That’s what our editors do for our clients: understand the message, understand the audience and then target content, design and method of delivery to ensure those messages are communicated in the most effective way.
The first question a good editor asks is: what is this publication for? Whether it’s an iPad magazine or a poster it must have a clearly defined purpose. Who are we trying to influence? What do we want our readers to understand?
Once that corporate purpose has been established our editors then support clients in producing something that is engaging, useful, informative and, above all, credible.
Without credibility there’s a real danger your comms will be seen as just so much hot air blown direct from the boardroom.
Our editors will challenge you to tackle the bad news as well as the good and help you to look for a positive message from a negative story. They will seek the human element in every corporate story so that it answers every employee’s question: ‘What does that mean for me?’
And they will urge you not to regard your employee or stakeholder publication as a PR job. Telling readers they are working for a great organisation has limited value. Encouraging readers to form that conclusion for themselves is the holy grail of corporate communications.
Our editors will lead a team usually comprised of a writer, designer and sub editor/proof reader (of which, more below), supported by a project manager, to make sure that your publication is not only credible but is also interesting, useful and entertaining. That ‘entertainment’ element, whether it’s a witty headline, a cartoon, a competition or those charity stories about volunteers sitting in a bath of baked beans, helps to achieve what we call ‘sugaring the pill’.
That means taking the corporate messages and wrapping them up in human stories and offering readers a varied diet of news and features that makes their publication an enjoyable read.
Our editors regard themselves as part of the client’s communications team, sharing the organisation’s goals and becoming immersed in its culture so that instinctively they know the ‘right thing to do’ for your publication. They will hold regular review meetings and can organise surveys and focus groups to test that your communications are earning their money.
*Sub editors/proof readers: if you are not familiar with the term these are experienced journalists who practice the dark arts of copy editing and have an endless supply of fine-toothed combs with which they check the content and then check it again to eliminate the possibility of error and to ensure consistency of style.