RE: Need help please (long response)

Subject: RE: Need help please (long response)
From: "Giordano, Connie" <Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 15:42:38 -0500

To those that continue to bash marcomm as some subspecies inferior to
everyone else... Remember that to the customer it's all marketing
because.... IT'S ALL ABOUT THE CUSTOMER. Whether before or after the sale.

Here are some things that in 20 years of doing both marketing and tech
writing (and doing them well, and enjoying them both immensely) I've found
that they do have lots more in common than you might think:

-There are idiots in every department who work without a clue, get promoted
for no reason, and survive by stealing credit, and doing the minimal amount
of work necessary to cash the paycheck. There is no higher proportion in
marketing than in development or tech pubs.
-Marcomm writers have to analyze the audiences and provide features and
benefits, and a motivation to buy. Tech comm writers have to analyze the
audiences and provide features and instructions and a motivation to try.
-Marcomm writers ought to know their subject matter better than anyone in
the company. So should tech comm writers. How many of either writer
actually exist --- only ones I know are on this list and the marcom lists :)
-Marcom writers can get caught in the crossfire of sales rep egos. Tech
writers can get caught in the cross fire of developer/engineer egos.
Survivors in both camps learn to know when to duck and when to return fire.
-Marcom's goal is to get and keep happy customers. Tech comm's goal is to
keep and get happy customers.
-Marcom's job is NOT to spin the text, it's to find a need that an audience
has and fill it. Tech comm's job is NOT to tell the audience they're stupid
in 600 pages, it's to fill a need the audience has to do a particular job
with a particular product.

Ever had to document vaporware? it's the same thing to a tech writer as
trying to write a product sheet or white paper on a product that's not even
in beta.

Now to some advice from someone who's worked both sides of the hall:

-Forget trying to outsmart him-he's a VP, and he's at least smart enough to
have gotten there (see first bullet above for the caveat to end all
caveats). Instead figure out how you can work together. Try to make him
see that taking final approval on the entire doc process is more than he
really wants to deal with. If he's got a brain, he'll delegate those
decision to the folks in the trenches.

Come up with proposals for document design that are in line, but not
identical to, marcom's designs. Everybody's got a stake, and everybody has
input. If it's not too risky, present those designs up the line, so the
senior people can see that you can create functional, usable designs, with
accurate, readable content

White papers fall in a gray area duty wise, the main thing is to determine
the audience for the white paper, and figure out who's got the best
expertise to handle a project. If it's got to explain a complex technology
from the 30,000 foot view, suggest an outline, and let him fill in he
content. If you're trying to sell IT managers on a new technology, suggest
the outline and the content.

Doing these things well takes time, so try to couch it in terms of providing
an additional resource to free him up for more strategic duties. Then
you've stroked his ego and gotten input into an area that you should have
input on. BTW, this works for ego-centric developer types as well.

OK back to work me

Connie Giordano

At 12:47 PM 10/30/01 -0700, Nancy Mignone wrote:

>We are a new company, and I have a problem. My problem is the head of
>marketing, a VP.
>This gentleman is very creative and intelligent. He also considers
>techncial writing as a subset of marketing.
>For example, at the moment marketing is developing a white paper on
>software architecture. I've never worked in a shop where that
>documentation type is done by marketing.
>He considers that all white papers to be marketing's responsibility, with
>the content provided by marketing (him).
>Look and feel, font colors and styles, bullet styles - all marketing. He
>insists on having input into and approval over everything that goes out
>publically, such as our Installation guide.
>Are there any technical leads or department heads or field laborers like
>myself in TECHNICAL WRITING who can tell me what a reasonable division of
>work between technical writing and marketing might be?

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