Up your content game: How to get more out of your writers

Image by Uriel68 from Pixabay

by Vanessa Chris

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Not every piece of content I’ve generated in my lifetime has been stellar. In fact, some of my pieces have downright sucked.

It’s true.

So why am I sharing this less-than-flattering truth bomb about myself—when I’m supposed to be convincing you of the merits of hiring a professional writer?

Because, chances are, you’ve hired freelance writers or agencies in the past with less-than-impressive results. In fact, I’m guessing there’s been at least one time that the content you received was so weak you were tempted to throw in the towel and never hire an external writer again.

(Let me know if I’m close.)

If you’ve found yourself in this position once, you could easily pass that off as bad luck. You lost the corporate writer lottery, so to speak, and it’s time to try again. But if you continually get back less-than-stellar content from your external writing partners time and time again? I hate to say this, but the problem may not be them. It may be you. Well, more specifically, your outsourcing processes.

Fortunately, processes are easily fixable. In fact, I can think of three, fool-proof, minor tweaks you can make right now that will considerably up your chances of filling the web with really awesome, captivating, thought-leading content. And, on behalf of corporate writers everywhere, I’d like to share them with you.

Step 1: Know your why

Content marketing: It’s so hot right now. But creating content simply for the sake of keeping up with the masses is—thhppppt!—the worst. For it to truly make an impact, it has to have a purpose. And while improving your search engine ranking can be a wonderful by-product of that overall purpose, it should not be the sole reason you’re producing content.

So before you pick up the phone and ask a writer for a quote, spend some time really thinking about what you want to get out of this blog post, or landing page, or LinkedIn article or whatever you need written. Do you want to educate potential customers? Clarify a common misconception? Subtly let the world know about your new product offering? Showcase the bright minds of your in-house thought leaders?

Whatever it is, pinpoint it—and figure out your ultimate call to action. What do you want your readers to do with this information? Pick up the phone to call you? Sign up for your newsletter? Renew a contract?

Please, for the love of all things content-related, don’t skip this step! All this information will be invaluable down the road. Trust me.

Step 2: Master the art of the brief

Once you’ve put some thought into your “why”, you must collect it all and put it in a nice, tidy, information-rich-but-not-overwhelming brief. (See? I told you all that work would pay off!) If you want good content, this is non-negotiable.

Now you’re probably saying, “Oh, we can skip this step because we already use creative briefs.”


This is your opportunity to look at the creative briefs you’ve been issuing your writers—not the template, but the actual, filled-out briefs—and evaluate how informative they really are. Are they clearly articulating your aforementioned purpose, audience, and call to action? Are they answering the 5ws: who, what, where, when, and why? Most important, are they giving your writer a really good starting point—so he/she knows how to focus their follow-up questions?

Too often in our line of work, we see creative briefs treated as some pain-in-the-butt thing mandated by marketing, rather than the incredibly valuable documents they are. Which leads to my next point…

Step 3: Get everyone on board

It’s a corporate writer’s job to take your knowledge, ideas, and experience and transform them into a captivating story that reels in your target audience while simultaneously making your company stand out. The thing is, our understanding of your business doesn’t hold a candle to yours. Which is why we need your help.

We need you to take all that valuable, juicy, interesting information swimming around in your head—or your colleague’s heads, or your company’s database—and unload the most pertinent tidbits to us, so we can work our magic.

This means you need to get the buy-in and commitment of your subject matter experts so they come to interviews well-prepared, with a clear and insightful company message. It means everyone understands the purpose of the article and how they can incite the preferred call-to-action. And it means you know which previous articles, brochures, or collateral tucked away in the depths of your database can help us really bring your message home.

Talk it out

As with all relationships, you and your writer may need a few encounters before things really start to click. That said, if you follow the above steps, the content you receive should at least be in the ballpark—say, a round of edits or two away from your ideal end product.

If they’re not, don’t be afraid to ask your writer for feedback. Specifically, what do they need to take your content from “good enough” to “out-of-this-world”? If they’re worth the big bucks you’re paying them, they shouldn’t have any problem letting you know.

What the heck is a corporate writer anyway?

by Vanessa Chris

“So, it says here you’re a writer. What type of writing do you do?”

This wasn’t a job interview. Despite my clammy hands and elevated heart rate, I wasn’t vying for my dream job or trying to land a new client. Rather, I was in my first consultation with an osteopath.

Sitting in a small room with a strange man and the door closed, my mind was racing. What does an osteopath even do? Is it a legit profession? How does it work? Am I going to have to take my clothes off?

Which is probably why I gave him the short answer: “Oh, you know, corporate writing.”

He stared at me blankly. Looked down at the form in front of him. And then looked up again.

“What does that mean?”

Despite the odd circumstances—(I mean, how does the type of writing I do even matter when you’re treating my sore shoulder?)—I get this question a lot. And while I’ve drafted a short elevator pitch to dish out at parties (“Like, website content and stuff”) the truth is my job is a little more complex than that. And, to be honest, the term “writer” doesn’t really adequately do it justice.

What is a corporate writer?

At its most basic level, a B2B copywriter helps businesses communicate with other businesses. Our job is to clearly explain how a certain product or service can help a company resolve specific business challenges.

I don’t really use the term “copywriter” on medical forms or when nosy people ask me what I do for a living because I find people immediately assume I’m in advertising—which I’m not. Or at least, not really. While I have written ad copy in my lifetime, most of the writing I do is designed to educate the end customer, highlight solutions to their pressing challenges, and subtly sell the product or service without directly doing so.

This is typically done through a range of content vehicles—including heavily-researched whitepapers, advertorial-style magazine articles, real-life case studies, and thought-provoking blog posts that highlight a unique point of view. The web content we write often involves repositioning a company’s offerings so they appear as solutions to a prospective customer’s challenges, rather than merely a laundry list of products or services. And while we sometimes write tweets, LinkedIn posts and web banners, these are typically collateral designed to promote larger pieces of content.

As a result, my work isn’t something you’d find on a billboard or in a newspaper advertisement (most of the time). Rather, it’s part of a company’s broader content marketing strategy—a tool to help search engines find them a little more easily, while simultaneously strengthening their reputation as a high-quality brand that knows what it’s talking about.

How do corporate writers make a difference?

While it may sound strange, I think the real advantage that corporate writers bring to the table is that we don’t really know what we’re talking about. Let me rephrase that: We know how to craft a compelling story, and we know what information is needed to convince your clients that you’re truly unique in the marketplace, but the expertise ultimately comes from you.

What a good corporate writer is able to do is coax that information out—by asking the right questions, conducting the necessary background research, and getting back to you when important information is missing. We get to know your target audiences, their familiarity with your topic and their challenges. And we aren’t afraid to slow you down and ask you to explain things in layperson terms—because most of the time, if we don’t know what you’re talking about, neither do potential clients.

Once we have the information we need, this is where we earn our pay cheque. We can identify where the real story lies—the one that your clients actually want to read, rather than the one you thought made the most sense. We can take rambling thoughts and transform them into a cohesive story line. We can rework existing pieces that just weren’t flowing properly. And we can take your super-complex business service and create a concise “about us” page that explains everything in one paragraph or less.

Should you hire a corporate writer?

In all truthfulness, hiring a corporate writer isn’t for everyone. If you’re a small business owner, you can probably get away with writing your own blog posts (if you have the time and enjoy writing), although it might be worth the investment to ensure your web copy really sings. On the other hand, if your company has undergone a lot of mergers and/or acquisitions in recent years, and suddenly has ten different brands operating under one umbrella, it would definitely be worth working with a writer or communications agency to make sure your tone, style and messages are all on point.

Ultimately, if you’re unsatisfied with your company’s content, you don’t have to suffer in silence. There are countless corporate writers out there (as well as communications agencies, communications consultants, freelance B2B copywriters, content marketing specialists, writing wizards, etc.) that would be happy to help you make it better. So, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask some companies about their offerings, writing processes and pay structures. Test them out with a small project at first and see if you click. Because, in today’s content-heavy market, having the right person to call on when the writing gets tough is truly an invaluable asset.

AR Communications named North America’s Best Woman-Owned Copywriting Boutique

Corporate Vision magazine recently released the winners of its 2016 Businesswoman Awards—and named AR Communications Inc. North America’s Best Woman-Owned Copywriting Boutique.

“Women represent around half of the global workforce and are key contributors to the corporate world: despite this, these contributions are often overlooked,” the magazine’s website explains. “As such, we have created the 2016 Businesswoman Awards to showcase the talent, dedication and hard work of the women who have changed the face of the business world.”

AR Communications Inc.’s owner, Aviva Rabinovici, was honoured—and surprised!—to receive the coveted award, and attributes her boutique copywriting agency’s success to a long-standing commitment to quality.

“The copywriting needs of our clients have changed tremendously over the last 20 years—particularly in this era of content marketing,” Rabinovici reflects. “At AR Communications Inc., we work diligently to not only meet our clients’ evolving requirements, but surpass their expectations as well. I’m truly humbled that Corporate Vision thought highly enough of our efforts to name us the Best Woman-Owned Copywriting Boutique in North America.”

To learn more about Aviva Rabinovici, you can find her profile here—or visit her profile on LinkedIn.

Tips for churning out more content

Finding the time to generate content for your content marketing efforts can be a challenge. Believe us, we get it. Fortunately, many smaller forms of content marketing—such as blog posts and social media posts—can be squeezed into most days, if you plan for it.

Are content marketers “losin’ it!”?

Virtually everyone in every business feels overwhelmed at one point or more in the work week… or the workday… or by the hour—well, you get the point. But as content marketing continues to play a bigger role in more organizations—and feeding the voraciously hungry content beast becomes increasingly challenging—content marketers are feeling the pain at a whole new level. Yet, according to this Open Letter to B2B Content Marketers, it may be for naught.


The rant highlights that, despite the fact only 22% of organizations are seeing success from their B2B content marketing efforts, they continue to spend more money to generate more content—with only 35% taking the time to actually implement a documented strategy. This, according to author Carlos Hidalgo, is the definition of insanity.


While we’re not going to come out and say B2B marketers are losin’ it, we fully understand how expanding roles and growing responsibilities can make it easy to lose sight of what’s important: the people reading your content.


The power of content marketing comes from providing relevant, informative content to your audience—content that people want to read because it will make their jobs easier, or provide answers to a common challenge, or help them decide which vendor is worthy of their business. This means understanding the people that comprise that audience. It means taking the time to understand their challenges, their favoured forms of content, their preferred means of consuming that content and giving them what they want to ensure they keep coming back for more. Because if they don’t come back for more, it’s hard to imagine the allotted funds for content marketing efforts will stay around forever.


We recognize this is easier said than done, which is why a third party perspective can come in handy sometimes. External content generation firms have the benefit of focusing on the task at hand. Because of this, we’re able to see when the tone of an article is off, or the channel isn’t quite right, or a piece of collateral requires a bit more research to provide the level of depth an audience would expect.


Being overworked isn’t the same as insanity—although it may feel that way at times. To alleviate some stress, and have a second opinion on hand, it might be worth acquiring a stable of trusted external writers to ensure your content is top-notch. To learn how to do that, check out our ebook The Perfect Fit: How to Outsource Great Writing.


Simplified analytics for the non-IT user

Imagine, for a second, that all the pertinent information gleaned from your organization’s data was accessible to everyone—not just IT gurus.

The case for case studies

A lot of content marketing is based on the old adage “show, don’t tell”. People don’t want to hear about why you’re great at what you do—they want you to prove it. And there’s no better way to do this than with a case study.

Is your writing a victim of marketing speak?

The next time you have a free moment, take your latest piece of written content and cover up your company name. Without it, can you still tell that the material is written about your company? Or could it apply to any one of your competitors?