People needlessly rewriting your copy

Likely impact

…on you

This is frustrating, and may make you wonder why they even bothered to ask for your help in the first place. It may knock your confidence in your ability as a writer, or even get you questioning whether your job is really needed. Then there’s the question of the time you may need to waste on rewrites or, even worse, what happens when your client’s poorly reworded redraft hits its intended audiences.

…on your clients

Inevitably they’re using up time doing the job you’re employed to do. And if they’re not great writers, the end product may end up hurting their reputation.

…on your organisation

If employees can’t properly understand – or end up ignoring – badly worded communications, this can potentially hurt the business results those communications are meant to be supporting. .

Likely causes

There are two main issues behind this: content and style. Either of them can be enough to trigger those rewrites – but they often work together.

  1. If your client didn’t brief you properly, it’s possible they may want to change at least some of the subject matter you’ve written, now they can see what they don’t want.
  2. It may be they’re being turned off by the way you’ve written that content. And this may have a couple of different origins
    • They may be having uncomfortable gut reactions which are driving them to ask for changes or alter the text themselves. Critically, though, many people simply respond to gut reactions without really knowing what’s driving them. When challenged, they often say: “It just doesn’t feel right.” As to why not, they have no conscious awareness. So they often change perfectly good copy without any conscious awareness as to why, or if doing so is even necessary.
    • Your organisation may not have adequate language standards. Without these you can end up with people making subjective decisions about ‘the right way to write things’, and the possibility of them writing or re-writing things badly.

Potential solutions

1. If it’s a content issue, chances are you’ll benefit from one or both of:

    • a mandate which can ensure you’re able to use your briefing process every time
    • a more effective briefing process.

2. If your issue is a stylistic one, again there are two possible issues you may need to address.

    • You may need to either to improve your organisation’s style guide, or even introduce a set of language standards from scratch
    • You’ll need to educate your clients (and your team) about the unconscious processes which drive potentially unhelpful gut reactions.

Things to consider for your wish-list

A potential role for training

There are several roles training could play here.

  1. It can teach you and your team a series of DFVP:
    • processes for taking IC briefs and for planning campaigns
    • techniques for getting all the information you need from your clients, while using those processes.
    • ‘minimum hygiene’ language standards and tools which could be rolled out across your organisation.
  2. It can also teach you and your team, and clients, to take conscious control of those gut reactions. It can even teach everyone to develop a consensus about how to respond to such reactions.

Beyond training you’ll also need

  1. Time to practise this learning, so you and your team can deliver maximum ROI.
  2. A mandate to use these practices in all relevant circumstances.

Where these solutions could take you

If you have:

  • an effective briefing process, and
  • a mandate to ensure people follow it every time…

…no one should ever have any need to change the content of your drafts (unless business circumstances have changed in the meantime).

And with the combination of:

  • effective language standards, and
  • an ability to help your clients understand and manage their own gut reactions…

…you can consign this issue to history.

Likely business benefits…

…for you

Firstly, you can have justifiable confidence in how you’re doing what you’re doing. You’ll also be helping empower your clients (and not just in their dealings with you). This can help your relationships with them (and do your career a bit of all right too). It can also save you wasted time.

…for your clients

They can save themselves wasted time, and get on with their work, confident you’ll be delivering what they want. And any potential for self-inflicted reputation damage should also disappear.

…for your organisation

By speeding up the process, you may reduce the need for rush jobs, and save a few costs here and there. And improving the quality of communications employees receive can only support their performance.