RE: Need help please

Subject: RE: Need help please
From: "Dugas, Andrew" <ADugas -at- eTranslate -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 07:38:40 -0800

I've written on both sides of the fence, too, fortunately in positive
situations where everyone knew where their realm of contribution began and

Short answer:

The content (white papers, anything) need to be technically accurate, and
thereby falls to the writer and engineering.

The look and feel is wholly marketing. They are responsible for ensuring
that all outgoing docs present the same branding, convey the same message,
etc. Anything less makes your outfit look, at best, sloppy. You want to buy
million-dollar software from a company that can't decide what font to use on
its Web site or can't use consistent heading capitalization from one doc to
the next?

Long answer:

It's hard to tell from your post, but it seems very reasonable for marketing
to have control over look and feel (formatting, fonts, artwork, etc) because
techcom is client-facing. Marketing wants to ensure that all outgoing docs
use the same terminology, convey a consistent message, and carry the same
recognizable branding, much in the same way every page on a Web site uses a
consistent design. All very reasonable.

(For this reason, tech doc is sometimes engineering, sometimes marketing.
Arguments for either side are compelling and boil down to a
what-works-for-you resolution.)

As someone who has written white papers... well, it's a different animal
entirely from the strictly technical writing I've done. The ratio varies,
but white papers are using technical skeletons wrapped in marketing
fluffer-nutter. You're explaining and selling at the same time.

Very often - and this may be your situation - you are also writing out
someone else's vision. I've written for sales/marketing VPs who had very
strong, often fantastic pitches already worked out in their heads and wanted
those pitches integrated into the white papers.

My talent (and value to them) was my ability to marry their fantasies to the
products' realities. It was never easy and the solution sometimes was a
compromise that satisfied neither fantasy nor reality. (Many revisions

And that's why I moved 100% into tech writing.

-----Original Message-----
From: Nancy Mignone [mailto:n_mignone -at- hotmail -dot- com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2001 11:47 AM
Subject: Need help please


At the risk of someone trotting out a canned, "humorous" response, let me
begin -

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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