Not so good when writers always obey and acclaim them,
Worst when writers despise them.
With good editors, when their work is done and their aims fulfilled,
The writer will say, “I did this myself.”
Paraphrase of Lao-tsu in The Body Language and Emotion of Cats by M. M. Milani
I have this short quote posted in my workspace, in a spot that co-workers may not notice but that’s highly visible to me. Re-reading the quote every so often helps to keep me focused on my role, and how (I like to think!) I am contributing to a culture at SIGMA Marketing Group of high standards and excellence.
I’m on SIGMA’s creative team, working with art directors, copywriters, production management and our account teams. I’m responsible for proofreading and copyediting B2B and B2C marketing projects for clients that range from print collateral to electronic communications with customers and prospects, to reports and presentations for our data analysts and marketing strategists, while reviewing any other written work for SIGMA (in any format) where an “extra set of eyes” has been requested.
The first line of the above quote reminds me to respect the writer’s craft and knowledge of a client’s objectives for a particular communication, the offer, the call to action and so on. I apply this to the input I receive and questions that I may need to ask the art directors, account team and production as well.
Another very important aspect that I need to keep in mind, though, is the target audience for the communication. How familiar will the audience be with the client, how formally will we address the customer or prospect, will any of the terminology used be unfamiliar, have we been consistent in tone throughout the piece, are we being clear? Have we protected the client’s brand, their trademarks, service marks and any copyrights?
For highly segmented target audiences, if I’m reviewing within and across audiences for a series of newsletters, for example, are we being consistent from issue to issue, and across segments? And when we have done work for a client with multiple, international offices, I have needed to keep in mind style and usage variations from country to country.
Respecting the writer and the knowledge of our internal teams, as well as keeping the client’s target audience in mind while proofreading, editing and questioning, are the practices that lead me to believe that the ultimate readers of our clients’ communications will “barely know” that I exist!
About the Author:
Bess Johnson is a copyeditor at SIGMA Marketing Group. In keeping with the theme of the article, we thought it fitting to not include her photo!