Working with Large Writing Groups
How do you get a large group of people to write well together? This is challenge that my company faces everyday. I’m going to focus this post on Chapter 5, Content Management—Beyond Single Sourcing, by William Hart-Davidson because this chapter opened my eyes to the question of large groups writing together.
On page 141, Hart-Davidson says, “…if their expertise is used properly, technical communicators can help organizations avoid the pitfalls and prosper.” I think this statement sums up everything I’ve noticed since I’ve been out of college and in industry. A lot of companies don’t understand the value with having a technical communicator in the organization.
I think if you’re going to have a company with a content group, you need to have a couple of technical communicators involved because they tend to understand the usability that content management needs to have and they also understand what a quality document is versus a document that isn’t too necessary for the organization.
It’s weird because I used to work for a company where there were only two writers in the entire organization. My coworker and I created everything. It was nice because we didn’t have too many other people sticking their noses into the details of our content. Now I work for a company where there are 40 people creating content together for the same audience. It’s completely different than what I’m used to.
Working with 40 other writers/designers/photographers is super challenging because everyone wants something different with the document. The writer wants good content. The designer wants a nice looking page. The photographer wants certain images to be a certain size on a page. A lot of my time is spent trying to convince people that the content I create needs to be on the page.
My biggest problem with my job is that the three managers (one for each group) only understand the one aspect that he or she is in-charge of. I’m 100 percent confident that if my company put a technical communicator in-charge of all three groups, everything would get done and the quality of the documents would improve because a technical communicator understands how writing, designing, and photography work together to make a page.
The managers at my company are too old-school and they don’t listen to suggestions. I’ve told my boss that I have a lot more skills (e.g. design and understanding CMS) and they just don’t want to hear it. I think my bosses need to be educated about the field of Tech. Comm. The problem is it’s challenging to educate people that don’t want to listen.
Here’s a link to the Adobe Tech. Comm. team: http://blogs.adobe.com/techcomm/tag/adobe
They use a blog which I think is pretty cool because it allows customers and employees to interact as a group. I think a large writing group within an organization could use something like this.