Where in the career spectrum does the modern “writer” fall?
As many as 75 percent of marketers might be increasing content creation, but the average job growth rate for occupational writers is not keeping pace.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, job growth for writers averaged 2 percent, with a few exceptions in specialized fields such as technical writing.
As more and more content is produced, organizations are relying on those in other occupations to generate material for their communication channels, including blogs and social media posts.
Meanwhile, occupational writers are asked to specialize while overseeing generalized content produced by their non-occupational colleagues. Specifically, it’s not uncommon for a writer (or communication manager) to be assigned specific projects and serve as an editor for the organization.
Likewise, other companies are increasing content while assigning occupational writers other titles, such as coordinator or manager, and then making them responsible for a broad range of advertising, marketing and public relations tasks. Still, the integrated communication specialist track hasn’t taken hold as an occupation, even if it has been adopted in practice.
In short, writers are being asked to review content well beyond their scope.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for marketing managers to write news releases or for public information officers to be tasked with writing advertisements. Both tracks ought to expect a heavy load of proofreading, editing and rewriting as more employees, managers and executives write content.
Ergo, most copywriters are not familiar with news release writing and Associated Press style guidelines, and most journalists or public relations specialists aren’t always prepared to relax their desire to write with a certain literalness. (Some even struggle with relaxing blog content.)
The results can be found everywhere, as advertisements become boring and marketing puff pieces are served up as news. As they are, outcomes wane; the only solution that some see is to double down on their investment. The problem with that: More lackluster communication doesn’t produce results with luster; it exposes dullness to more people.
Stop trying to wear different hats; instead, start writing from the inside out.
One of my biggest issues with clients and so-called brainstormers who want steal everyone else’s work is that it never produces anything that elevates the conversation. It’s writing from the outside in, and that only contributes to consumers’ communication overload.
This is also why I transformed Writing For Public Relations at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, into Writing Across Communication. It’s a better way to expose writers to different styles, formats and techniques that used to be associated with specific fields.
We have to start teaching occupational writers how to write differently, given that we live in a world where copywriters are asked to write blog posts or white papers, public relations specialists are assigned to write advertisements and 140-character tweets, and journalists must become adept with social media and broadcast channels—all the while proofreading and editing everyone else’s contributions.
Rather than teach writers to form professional perspectives, they really must understand the core communication components of an organization and various processes used in messaging. After fundamentals, they can learn four primary approaches to effective communication: journalism, public relations, content marketing and advertising.
As many writers find they are more suited to one approach over another, diversification can strengthen specialization. Even fiction writers can benefit from learning different writing approaches.
A version of this article originally appeared on Richard Becker’s blog.