The art of making people look smart

Posted on August 5, 2019 Published by Leave your thoughts

By Sherree DeCovny

Thought leadership content plays an important role in marketing strategy. It’s a great way to demonstrate that your organization understands the issues and pain points in your industry, and has ideas about addressing them. However, developing good content is a process that involves identifying a compelling idea or angle, structuring an outline, interviewing subject matter experts, writing and editing multiple drafts, obtaining approvals and distributing it to the target audience.

I’ve spent many years developing thought leadership content on finance, technology and international trade for organizations of all sizes – from some of the largest companies in the world to startups. Above and beyond being a good writer and editor, it takes a certain skill set to create a superior product and ensure the process runs smoothly. Here are some of the roles I play:

Shadow subject matter expert. Some people are crystal clear about the points they want to communicate and the results they want to achieve with the content. However, others need help narrowing their topic, coming up with an interesting angle and structuring their argument. I make sure that I understand their subject, ask relevant questions and know where to find missing information.

Mediator. In some situations, several subject matter experts are providing their input, but they don’t all agree on the messaging. As an example, perspectives can vary a lot between countries and regions. In those instances, I ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and that the end product reflects a consensus opinion.

Interpreter/translator. Some subject matter experts prefer to do their own writing, and they want me to edit it. That works out well when the person is focused, structured, and writes fluently with a natural flow and rhythm. All I have to do is copy edit, clarify a few points and fact check. But that’s not always the case, especially when they’re in a rush, writing isn’t their strength, or English isn’t their first language. That’s when I draw on my writer, editor and shadow subject matter expert skills to understand what they want to say and turn their draft into polished thought leadership content.

Project manager. My top priority is to produce high-quality content on time every time. However, I recognize that the subject matter experts may have other bonfires burning in the organization that take precedence over my project. Not only do I create a realistic schedule from the outset, but I also manage the team’s expectations along the way.

Creating thought leadership content and juggling all these hats isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I love my job. I learn something every day, so it keeps me on my toes. It’s fun and rewarding to work in global teams, and I’m lucky to work with so many wonderful people and organizations. Moreover, it gives me a kick when people thank me for making them look smart.

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This post was written by Sententia Partners

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