Teamwork and Writing – Is it Possible to Achieve Success?
When you think about writing, most of the time you’ll envision a lone writer toiling away and trying to put words to paper – words that will touch people, make them think or make them act. It’s exactly as it should be – writing is a solitary task and an individual sport. Unfortunately, in the business world writers often have to collaborate with other writers in order to produce something of value.
This is because specific types of writing have to include numerous perspectives – a lot of people with a lot of different expertise have to be included in order to come up with something that is worth reading and that brings value to the target audience.
This is called collaborative writing and a lot of business-related and technical content is done this way.
Since writing is a specific line of work, some guidelines have to be established before writers set out to collaborate on any piece of content:
- Knowing the team – you do not have to know everyone inside out but it is helpful to know how people you work with think and create.
- Everyone is equal – no one is more important than anyone else. Everyone has something to contribute to the project and their opinion and contribution should be respected.
- Have a kick off meeting – get to know the team and start discussing responsibilities and expectations early on – it’s going to do wonders for the entire project.
- Organize your group – while everyone’s contribution is equally important, the group has to be structured. Make sure you have a team leader, an editor, a proofreader and that you clarify everyone’s obligations early on. Agree on team meetings, their length, and what members can expect during those meetings.
- Standardize feedback – a lot of times collaborates will leave feedback on each other’s work. If that feedback is not standardized it is going to be difficult to implement it. Make sure that everyone follows the same rulebook, so to speak, when it comes to feedback.
- Listen to everyone – don’t dismiss people just because you don’t agree with what they have to say. Listen to how the group reacts, voice your opinion but be ready to cooperate with others.
- Agree on a reference guide – writers write in different styles. In order to achieve some semblance of cohesion make sure you all use the same reference book for matters of style and formatting and adhere to it.
Can it be Done Successfully?
A lot of writers are skeptical about collaborative writing – and, usually, they would have every right to be. What they lack is perspective most of the time. Collaborative writing for business is not the same as collaborative writing on a piece of fiction. Writing fiction is difficult enough when a writer has to argue with their own brain let alone inputs from several other writers.
On the other hand, collaborative business writing is different. If the rules are followed it usually results in content that is more comprehensive and more on point than anything that a single writer could hope to accomplish.
Here are 5 key you should take to heart if you are a collaborative writer. These can be applied across various business niches and used to create web pages, white papers, case studies, e-books, long form articles and more.
- Get consensus on quality
It is no surprise that people have different opinions on what is quality writing and what is not. However, this is a question that needs to be answered as it’s closely related to the final product collaborative writers are going to put out. Establishing a quality threshold is going to make it a lot easier to come up with a quality end product. You can comfortably start with collecting writing samples from everyone in the team. Review everything and highlight good aspects of every document. Work together to establish a quality baseline that has founding on those samples and do not deviate from it.
- Make use of strategies
Companies tend to produce the same type of content over and over. These can range from white papers to e-books. Make sure you pinpoint the essential elements of these documents early on and that you train your entire team in how to produce them in the fastest and most organized way possible. The key to dishing out great content every single time is to adhere to those elements and to use past experience as a guideline.
- Pay attention to workflow
It is all about rules. Every document that your organization publishes goes through a series of phases: planning, development, revisions, proofreading, editing, and so on. Make sure that every team member knows their place in relation to those phases. Everyone will contribute but make sure you have people who are responsible for planning the document, proofreading it, and editing it. In the long run, it’s going to save you a lot of back and forth.
- Have a consistent message
It’s rather difficult to work with other people if you cannot agree on what you want to say. Making sure that everyone is working on the same message is going to make your company’s communication so much more effective. Key messages constantly have to be reinforced – keep that in mind whenever you are writing and make sure your writing colleagues are also keeping it somewhere in the back of their heads.
- The importance of voice
Your company voice is extremely important. Today, there is nothing more that people value than integrity. In content, that integrity is conveyed by having a consistent and reliable voice you use. The most important thing you need to consider is that people want to read content written by people – make sure everyone in your writing team is able to convey messages in a down-to-earth manner that is relatable to and understood by the audience. Another thing that audiences really appreciate is personality. If you’re creating content that has a flare, make sure that every contributor knows what that flare is and how to achieve it.
Following these simple rules will ensure that everything that you publish as a collaborative effort has the same feel and uniformity to it. In a nutshell, creating content with other writers is possible – even advisable if you’re working in a business niche – but in order to be good at it, certain rules have to be followed. Drop down by the comments section and let us know how your company does it! Are you getting good results and are you ready to implement some of these best practices?