Tech writing to Marcom: Help?

Subject: Tech writing to Marcom: Help?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 09:46:37 -0400

Jane Bergen reports: <<I just learned that my department is going
away...well, the development end of it is anyway. They're "transitioning" me
into marketing communications.>>

Beware the dark side, Luke. Once you start down that path, forever will it
control your destiny. <g>

<<While I'm thrilled that they're not just laying me off>>

Congratulations. Sounds like they like you! (What's not to like, right? <g>)

<<Does anyone have any advice (quitting is not an option)?>>

Ask the kind folks at eHelp to send you some of their materials: you'll get
a mailing roughly every 2 days thereafter, even if you move to another
continent under an assumed name. Study these materials closely, then do the
exact opposite of what they do. <g> Seriously? Marketing is no different
from any other type of technical communication (though the details obviously
vary): start by knowing your audience and your employer's goals for that
audience, then apply some brain cells to figuring out how to reconcile those
two potentially different sets of goals. Treating one's audience with
respect and communicating honestly with them seems rarely done these days,
so if you can do that, your materials will stand out like a beacon of light
amidst all the other hype, fuss, and "sound and fury, signifying nothing"
(note the clever Shakespeare reference <g>).

<<Suggestions for books or articles to read?>>

Though I haven't read it, "Writing high-tech copy that sells" by Janice King
has received favorable reviews in the past, and since she's a technical
writer, she should know our biz better than most other marketing writers. (I
have read some of her STC articles in the past, and benefited from them.)
The book's listed as out of print, but I found a few copies available via A quick search on Amazon using "high-tech marketing"
revealed 20 other books you could explore. I also highly recommend the
following book from personal experience:
Kent, P.; Calishain, T. 1999. Poor Richard's Internet marketing and
promotions. Top Floor Publishing, Lakewood, Colorado. 404 p. $30 U.S.
( I've reviewed this book for the upcoming issue of the STC
Marketing SIG's newsletter, so if you sign up quickly, you can get the
details there.

<<I'm going to the STC Conference in Chicago, but according to the
conference guide there are only four sessions that apply strictly to

As I've noted before, the sessions represent only one of the many valuable
things to do at the STC convention; the people you'll meet are by far the
best resource, since you can persuade them to talk about specific things
that interest you. Make sure you find the Marketing SIG's business meeting
(probably on Sunday afternoon, but perhaps during the week) and find some
people to talk with; if you find someone compatible, stalk them throughout
the conference and suck their brain dry. (This too will be good preparation
for a career in marketing. <eg>) Also book a seat at one of the Marketing
tables at the SIG luncheon on Tuesday, and find some compatible and
sympathetic souls. Talk the ears off anyone who'll listen, and buy them a
beer if need be to get them talking to you. Have fun! You'll probably make
at least one friend, may find a mentor, and will come back packed with war
stories and real-world experience from people who really know their stuff.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"Hart's law of gravitation: Deadlines are the documentation equivalent of
black holes: the closer the deadline approaches, the harder it becomes to
escape its pull, and the faster events accelerate in their rush towards the
deadline; at the technical communication equivalent of an "event horizon",
nothing escapes that pull. And the closer you approach a deadline, the
faster things are moving and the less time everyone has to react
appropriately."--Geoff Hart


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