Re: Content Dissemination

Subject: Re: Content Dissemination
From: "Jane Bergen" <jane -dot- bergen -at- usa -dot- net>
To: "Techwr-L List" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 2000 21:01:30 -0500

Wow....what I see here is a BIG red flag, Anonymous. As a veteran of
this same battle (different year, different battlefield, that's all),
I have some advice: Forget about marketing unless it's your designated
responsibility. You're just going alienate people and jeapordize your
budding career. Your job, as technical writer, and your responsibility
as a professional, is to do your own docs. Period. Yes, you probably
do know how to improve "theirs" but it's not your job. If you end up
alienating both marketing folks and the developers, you're going to be
the one on the street because when you need cooperation, these folks
won't be there for you. One of the hardest lessons to learn in life is
to let some things go....change what you can, but let the rest go:

- License agreements belong to corporate attorneys, even in startup
- Marketing material is always smoke and mirrors, even in big,
established companies.
- Style guides, while beneficial and needed in any size organization,
rarely make people feel warm and fuzzy toward you....especially if you
"wave it under their noses." They can work just fine, but require a
little finesse in getting everyone to buy into being
regulated....which is essentially their purpose. what DO you do?

- Develop the style guide, but walk very, very softly and slowly.
Introduce it in increments and at the appropriate moments.

- "Recommend" some process guidelines for passing YOUR information to
others who want to use your documents. Do this in writing, to YOUR
boss, and do not accuse anyone of lying or be in anyway disparaging to
your coworkers. Find something good that they do and use that as well.
As for getting between the developers and marketing, don't even go

- Produce squeaky-clean, well-designed documentation that falls
within your realm of responsibility. People will notice when you
produce the goods and will consider that you may just know what you're
talking about. Show don't tell....the old writer's advice.

You say you're new to the field, so we can sympathize to a point.
We've all been there and now are veterans, so listen to what we're
saying. I'm sure you'll get a few people on this list who will tell
you to just quit your job, but that won't help you or the company. It
will just earn you the reputation of being a prima donna. Most of us
have learned that we don't HAVE to win every battle. In a new
organization you can play an important and positive role in helping
them organize and grow. You just need to try looking at yourself
through THEIR eyes occasionally.

I would say "Good luck," but you don't need luck. You need to just
take a deep breath and slow down, use a little common sense, and treat
people kindly (whether they deserve it or not). What goes around,
comes around.

----- Original Message -----
From: <anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2000 8:11 PM
Subject: Content Dissemination

> How do you all handle other departments reusing or re-purposing the
> content that you put together. We are a relatively new company and
we are
> still 'implementing' processes.
> Here's the situation:
> 1. Marketing materials that are inaccurate and actually have
> included in them.
> 2. No control over what information marketing/sales re-purposes.
> 3. Developers circulating information to marketing or sales. (I say
> information because that's basically what the documents are, there
is no
> formatting or stylistic constraints and the information is left up
> marketing/sales to 'interpret').
> 4. Big Fat lies about functionality in our license agreements.
Which now
> means we have to bust butt to magically develop these things for
> Additionally, we have included significant amounts of our source
code in
> the agreements.
> 5. The reason I found about this is I was contacted to 'get' a list
of our
> latest features and 'comment' on the benefits so marketing could
turn this
> into a document for sales. Someone in sales had gotten their hands
on an
> old list and were actually working from that. Marketing's last
> on this topic was over 7 pages - just a list, feature/benefit.
> document in my opinion should probably only be circulated
> down for external purposes. This document included two huge
falsehoods on
> the first page (if the client goes that far down the list of 20 or
so things).
> Unfortunately, being new to both the company and the field I am not
> what I need to do. We are in the process of purchasing Adobe
> and I have just started to create a style guide, (Hence, I can't
wave that
> under their noses). I probably sound like I'm ranting but this is
the only
> forum I feel comfortable doing that. To be perfectly honest I am
embarrassed by
> some of our marketing materials, editing and style aside
> the information is too long and I don't really think appropriate to
> provide externally. I like my company and I believe in the product
> the people working here. I am not a sales person so I have a harder
> understanding how you say something to them that's a real MAYBE and
next thing you know
> you can here them on the phone telling a prospective client.
> Here's what I have done so far:
> 1. I spoke with my boss and he hadn't even seen many of the
> materials and he's director of R&D, so he was all for my suggestion
> implementing a 'process'. This process would ensure that all
> document/information requests from developers or R&D would go
through me.
> Additionally, we would have final say over designating
> reuse of content. I sent out an e-mail outlining (briefly) this
> to all department managers (with my bosses backing of course).
> So, where do I go from here? How do I implement this process, how
do I
> create the correct steps, company-wide? I know that I can get
> with my manager and we can determine which content gets tagged for
internal or
> external use, I don't foresee this as a problem. But I'm not sure
> criteria I can realistically expect marketing to follow, i.e.
> style, format, etc... I want to be part of the solution and I think
> the e-mail that got people's attention, now I want to keep it. Have
> run across this problem or am I just being ridiculous.

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