Internal editors are essential to B2B companies that want to be seen as thought leaders. These firms shouldn’t outsource all their content development (although we’ll gladly accept the work). They need a solid in-house staff, too.
But I’ve heard a lot lately about editors and ghostwriters in B2B companies who are tremendously overworked and enormously stressed out. The most common reason I see is this: Editors who have deep pride and are highly skilled in their work try to fix terribly written and often incoherent articles from the company’s professionals (the law firm’s lawyers, the consulting firm’s consultants, the architecture firm’s architects and designers, etc.). What the authors see as a quick edit – an hour or two – turns into a 2-day-or-longer affair.
It’s akin to sending acutely ill patients and accident victims to your doctor’s office. You’ve just turned a medical practice into an emergency room. These editors aren’t editing; they’re doing triage.
That means they’re overworked. Even more so, they aren’t happy with their work. After restructuring too many articles or rewriting them from scratch in plain language so the average client can make sense of them, your editors still believe the advice is shallow, unsurprising, and unsupported.
What to do about this? Get your authors to understand the components of a compelling argument. Such a narrative is the core set of messages in a 1,000-word op-ed or 10,000-word research report. The argument must clearly lay out the problem in the world your authors are pointing to; why mainstream solutions don’t solve it well (i.e., the ones your firm is competing against); what the new and better solution is; how to implement it; what barriers your audience will face in trying to do that, and how to overcome them; and why your audience must solve their problem now.
This is the narrative structure that I laid out in Chapter 6 of my book:
From Chapter 6 of “Competing on Thought Leadership,” copyright Robert S. Buday
It’s that simple, but it will take clear thinking. In fact, authors should spend most of their content development time constructing the core narrative.
When the authors in your company base their article drafts on carefully constructed narratives, their prose will be a lot easier to edit. They’ll be sending fewer acute “patients” to your editors/doctors. Your editors won’t have to work into the evening trying to rescue articles with weak arguments explained incoherently.
And you’ll have a better chance of holding onto your very talented editors.