In a data science and technology-driven marketplace, we are forced to be more analytically astute at knowing the nuts-and-bolts of products and services – everything from functionality to “the customer experience”.
In keeping up with evolving market shifts, corporations across multiple industries have become proactive in acquiring the knowledge and expertise of analytical and technically-savvy communicators – Technical Writers are in demand.
What Is A Technical Writer?
The work of a Technical Writer, or Technical Communicator, range in scope; anything from creative design and development of instruction documents and publications, traditional and online end-user training, and other complex product and service information for greater ease-of-use. More times than not, a Technical Writer will want to interface with stakeholders to gather and proof information before constructing, authoring and disseminating any content.
Employment for professional writers with technical know-how is expected to grow at a rate of 11 percent in the next eight years – a growth rate faster than any other occupation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2018).
What Does Marketing Communications and Journalism Have to Do with It?
Anyone who effectively communicate business information to a broader public, understands the power of knowing their audience.
For example, if I work in an Information Technology (IT) environment, it would be in my best interest to understand the nomenclature of the IT field. What language and terms do they use to communicate? What voice do I use to provide instruction to customers? Do I write in a conversational style, or should the content be presented in a formal manner? Who am I communicating to, and are they knowledgeable professionals, or adult learners?
While there is an array of factors to consider when knowing your audience, answering these and other critical questions about your business operation will increase the likelihood of better connecting your customers to products and services.
Know All Facets of the Subject Matter
If you don’t understand it, you can’t explain it – even worse, you will confuse the receiver of your communication. There is nothing more horrific than disseminating a deliverable that was not fully vetted, and as a result incorrect, and must be retracted.
Before you can discuss or write about a product or service, you must do your due diligence in gathering all facets of relevant information. It may be through reviewing previous knowledge sharing resources such as documentation or starting from scratch; speaking with credible subject matter experts within your business operation. On a much broader scale, you may require talking with an external customer in the industry – getting the information right the first time goes a long way in establishing credibility with stakeholders.
Know Associated Press (AP) Stylebook Best Practices
AP Stylebook best practices are commonly used by communication professionals across multiple business disciplines, ranging from corporate communications, public relations and advertising, to newspaper and broadcast journalism — consider it a sacred rules book for communication professionals. It establishes a clear, concise and consistent method for writing copy, while providing standardized formatting of information such as citations, dates, titles, and numbers. It outlines principles for syntax and punctuation. When should you capitalize a title, or spell a number out? The AP Stylebook is your standardized reference guide, and I highly recommend it for professionals who compose business and technical information for an organization. No matter your level of expertise, you want to keep a copy within reach – like science and technology, it too is ever changing.
A foundation in our understanding of marketing communications and journalism go a long way in providing customers with useful, clear and concise information. Furthermore, employment demand for Technical Writers reflect today’s data and technology driven marketplace.
By knowing your audience (customers/stakeholders), understanding every dimension of the subject you are communicating, and having a solid command of AP Stylebook writing, not only does it establish credibility and usability, but more importantly, customer/stakeholder satisfaction.
Charles Martin is a communication management consultant, with over 20 years of combined knowledge and expertise in marketing, journalism, digital media development, project management, information technology and business data analytics. Martin holds a BA in English/Mass Communications from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and MPA from North Carolina Central University.