Scenario: After getting several reports of customers complaining about the user guides for their products, the technical communications managers spend weeks developing new guidelines to make their content more consistent and clean up the vocabulary used by the writers. They create a list of acceptable and unacceptable terminology. Then, they hand over the packet of new guidelines to their team of writers. The writers get to work.
After a few weeks, the managers realize that the writers aren’t consistently instituting these new rules, causing the content they collectively produce to be discordant. So how can the managers get the writers to comply with the new guidelines? Here are some tips to consider:
You can automate some of the writing process by using terminology management tools. Some CMSs have built-in tools; there are also stand-alone tools that can be used for this purpose as well. These tools can apply the rules automatically with minimal human intervention. This ensures a level of consistency that your customers will notice, and the potential for human error is substantially reduced.
Force the process.
In your workflow process, incorporate steps that remind writers to apply the new guidelines. For example, after the content creation step is completed, incorporate a step for quality controlling new terminology. By reminding your writers to apply an extra level of scrutiny, the caliber of their work will improve and your brand will develop a more unified and consistent voice.
Create proofreading teams.
Writers should critique their own work after it is completed. Managers should also consider creating proofreading teams so that writers take a look at one another’s work before submitting it for final approval. This provides an additional layer of security that can help ensure corporate writing is easily digestible, consistent, and follows all editorial guidelines.
If some of your guidelines are more structure-related, use templates to enforce consistent content creation. A template can provide the skeleton for a new topic, for example, that includes the proper structure for the topic as well as any boilerplate content that you might want to include across the board. Using templates when appropriate is a great way to guarantee the consistency of your brand’s tone while expediting the creative process and bolstering productivity.
When it comes to your content strategy, creating and maintaining a consistent voice is essential in helping sculpt your brand’s identity. By leveraging modern technology and developing the most effective practices, you can guide your writers as they produce content with a unified voice.