TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
> anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com asked:
> How do you all handle other departments reusing or re-purposing the
> content that you put together.
You had the fun of gathering and writing the stuff. How somebody else repurposes
it is none of your business. Help if asked, otherwise they are on their own.
> Here's the situation:
> 1. Marketing materials that are inaccurate and actually have miss-truths
> included in them.
This is new? This must be your first time working with marketing. Marketing has
to create interest in a product before the product is done.
When I was working in engineering I can not tell you how many times a marketing
person asked: "How hard would it be to bla bla" "Oh, they would say, really?, I
already told a customer we would have that functionality..."
> 2. No control over what information marketing/sales re-purposes.
Most of us can not even control our own kids; you want control over adults?
> 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 to
> marketing/sales to 'interpret').
Are you suggesting instituting a gag order so that developers can not talk to
the marketing folks? Get a grip.
> 4. Big Fat lies about functionality in our license agreements. Which now
> means we have to bust butt to magically develop these things for delivery.
Not lies, "future functionality".
> Unfortunately, being new to both the company and the field I am not sure
> what I need to do.
You need to pick your battles carefully. Step back and grin. The marketing
people are digging their own hole, be careful not to fall in it.
> I probably sound like I'm ranting but this is the only
> forum I feel comfortable doing that.
Comfortable you say; then you have not yet incurred the "Wrath of Eric" <grin>.
> To be perfectly honest I am embarrassed by
> some of our marketing materials...
You don't think that even some of the marketing people at AOL are embarrassed
when they put the NEW NEW NEW stickers on their CD?
> Here's what I have done so far:
> 1. I spoke with my boss and he hadn't even seen many of the marketing
> materials and he's director of R&D, so he was all for my suggestion of
> implementing a 'process'. This process would ensure that all
> document/information requests from developers or R&D would go through me.
Everything must go through you, hugh?. Oh, you silly bureaucrats. You are
becoming the problem, not the solution.
> Additionally, we would have final say... I sent out an e-mail to all
>department managers (with my bosses backing of course).
This is beginning to sound like so many useless bureaucrats I have come across
in the past. All of them building trenches and walls instead of doing work. I
used to work for this large company full of value adders. These value adding
slugs never did anything, yet they thought they should have final say.
> So, where do I go from here? How do I implement this process, how do I
> create the correct steps, company-wide?
In order to be successful in controlling the flow of information company-wide,
while setting yourself up as the information czar, you are going to have to kiss
a lot of high ranking butt. It would be helpful if your daddy is the CEO.
> Have you run across this problem or am I just being ridiculous.
Not ridiculous, just naive. Why not just enjoy your work? Why do you want to
head off and get involved in brickmanship.
Do you want to be a technical writer, an information czar, or a bureaucrat?
Pick your battles wisely.
Who has the scars to back up what he writes.