Re: Merging marketing pubs with tech pubs

Subject: Re: Merging marketing pubs with tech pubs
From: Miles Kimball <miles -dot- kimball -at- MURRAYSTATE -dot- EDU>
Date: Tue, 1 Sep 1998 10:11:27 -0500

Beth --

I know we'd like to think that what we're doing is objective, scientific,
and, well, technical -- but isn't all technical writing a form of marketing
information to audiences?

Even when I've written documentation for internally used proprietary
software, I've had an audience I had to convince, at least, that using the
software was a manageable task -- and another audience I had to convince
that the money they paid for my effort was well spent. Technical writing
isn't performed in an economic vacuum -- companies invest in documentation
because it makes more money than it costs, if only by encouraging users to
have positive vibes about products so they'll buy more. In other words,
technical writing always involves persuasion on one level or another.

And on the other side of the question, I've had experiences in which
engineering departments strangled documentation efforts with the attitude
that users really are stupid and just need to "figure out" how to use the
product. Perhaps a little more marketing focus would temper technical goals
by leading to a more user-centered attitude in such situations.

Besides, as someone has already pointed out, you can take advantage of your
new situation to learn a new set of skills -- which can only make you (dare
I say it) more marketable.

Miles Kimball

At 11:35 AM 8/28/98 -0700, you wrote:
> I could really use some feedback from you company is on the
> verge of putting tech pubs under marketing, and calling the dept.
> Marketing and Technical Communications.
> And I'm feeling very uncomfortable about this.
> We've always been the Technical Publications Dept., under the wing of
> the Engineering Dept.
> Between attrition and reductions in force, I am now the only person in
> Technical Publications (as senior TW). The marketing dept.'s director
> just resigned, and there are only two people left in that dept. -- a
> webmaster and a marketing assistant. Since I've been helping out
> marketing by providing editing services and some graphics file
> handling, they thought maybe we belong together. They're thinking of
> putting the marketing assistant in charge of this new M/TC dept.,
> which kind of bugs me. She's not a writer; there is no marketing
> writer or graphics person.
> I'm not really interested in writing ads and press releases. Although
> I was in PR at one time, over the past few years I've become really
> attached to the engineering side -- tech writing, usability testing,
> interface get the idea. I am really comfortable being
> part of engineering.
> Can anyone tell me what you did in a similar situation, or what you
> would do when faced with this change?
> In a way it makes sense to have all publications coming from one
> dept., but I'm not an "ad" kind of person.
> I am so totally swamped with tech writing work I have no time for
> marketing stuff anyway...
> Thanks very much,
> Beth Kane
> bkane -at- artisoft -dot- com in Tucson
>From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000==
Miles A. Kimball
Director, Professional Writing Program
Murray State University
miles -dot- kimball -at- murraystate -dot- edu

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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