Companies and businesses engage in external communications every day without realizing it. While formal press releases, responses to traditional media information requests, and technical information represent obvious types of writing, company personnel also respond through other means to external parties that are often not tracked so well – until they become controversial. The most common problem usually tends to be people complaining about their supervisors, for example. Email, marketing, copywriting, notes, videos, you name it, there are tons of communications that flow out of a business daily without control.
While business management can’t realistically (or even legally in some cases) be in the position of vetting every single word like a corporate Joseph Stalin, management can proactively influence casual company chatter in Internet forums, social media, and other proactive awareness forums. Ignoring this area, as many a business has learned, allows a simple placement of a bad sentence or comment to quickly go viral, taking down opportunity and goodwill in a matter of hours.
To avoid the above problems as much as possible, a company needs to pull its writers into the fold, especially those picked up through outsourcing on contracting work. Despite the rumor that freelancers can produce anything, they do have normal, human limitations. Many freelancers are quite willing to provide the company content writing support needed as long as they have a good idea of what is expected. A company that takes a bit of time to explain its focus, goal, and expectations can essentially provide hired writers parameters of communication to follow. This removes the guessing game for the writer, especially if he or she is in the position of handling ongoing, fluid social media interaction that the company needs monitored.
Companies can’t expect hired writers, whether employed or contracted, to be psychics. Freelancers aren’t born with a crystal ball welded to their craniums. Granted, many writers are quite intelligent people with a lot of work and communication experience under their individual wings. However, they can’t arbitrarily mind-read what company management wants. So, if a business wants its contracted communication work to be spot-on, its own directions to the hired staff need to be explicit and clear as well.
Ideally, a contracted writer can produce protected writing on a regular basis if he is kept in tune with what topics are sensitive for a company client. That avoids bad missteps and material posted to social media accounts that can end up being virtual black eyes for a business. So don’t keep your contract writer in the closet. It doesn’t do much for his personal ego, and it won’t help content creation. Bring him into the business’ issues to provide shared awareness. The results will be better writing that remains consistent with the given business’ desires and avoids embarrassing mistakes.
If your brand awareness and social marketing are to be entrusted to contractors, then do it right. Make sure the contracted writer is kept in tune with what is expected when writing, and make sure the instructions are clear and easy to follow. The results should be predictable and consistent with expectations, because online social media surprises are something a business doesn’t need today.
Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.