technical writing vs. marketing writing

Subject: technical writing vs. marketing writing
From: Anatole Wilson <awilson -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1993 10:14:21 PST

Alun W. Writes:

>>From: Anatole Wilson <awilson -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM>

>>As a former copywriter for a computer catalog company and a current
>>technical writer (excuse me--Information Developer), I see the line
between technical and marketing writing to be very, very, blurred.

Alun W. replies:

The reason for this in the common motivation shared by the two types
of writing. The technical writer must understand and "believe in"
>the product in order to fulfil his pledge to communicate
>truthfully and completely. The marketing writer is selling the
>product and to be convincing a salesperson must first "sell it
>to yourself".

>Perhaps Woody Allen said it best:

>"What you need in this (writing) business is sincerity. Once you
>can fake that, you have it made!"


I may have misunderstood you, Alun, but what you *appear* to be doing is
making a distinction between technical writing--which is correct and useful
to the customer--and marketing writing, which is, if not deceitful, at least
misleading or "insincere." At the very least, you've separated the idea of
writing truthfully and completely from the idea of writing marketing materials.

One of the first rules I learned as a marketing writer was "always tell
the truth." As in any type of communication, fabrications and half-truths
catch up to you in the long run. If I say "Make a million dollars with
this easy process" and the process has 57 steps, you know right away
that the process *isn't* easy, and I've crossed the line from being
a marketing writer to being a liar, and a bad one at that. If anyone *does*
buy that process, they'll be back demanding a refund later.

I was hoping that my example of the QUICKEN manual would illustrate that
good technical writing and good marketing writing could work together. Does
the manual lose accuracy because the two are combined? Not functionally, no.
Whether what they consider "easy" and what I consider "easy" is the same thing
is purely subjective--in this case (as opposed to the example above), they
don't lose credibility in my mind, because the instructions are still
complete and truthful.

Anatole Wilson If anyone objects to any
Sr. Assoc. Information Developer statement I make, I am
IBM, Santa Teresa Labs quite prepared not only
awilson -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com to retract it, but to
deny under oath that I
all company disclaimers apply ever made it.

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