Skills for a customer magazine

2nd June 2016 | Posted in Marketing communications

Creating customer magazines

You’re putting together a high-quality customer magazine that you’ll use in print and online as a pdf download. It’s going to include informative articles – perhaps some case studies, hints and tips, and maybe some advance product details. You want it to be something your current and potential customers will find of value.

You’ll need people to make this magazine happen. Some will be internal, some may be from an agency, and some may be freelancers hired directly.

If you’re after high-quality, consistent publications, you’ll need writers and designers who know exactly what they’re doing. And you’ll need an overall director.

Let’s look at the skills they’ll need.

The decision-maker

Without a doubt you need someone who is willing to

  • Talk to senior management as well as teams from around the business to plan editorial programmes and find contributors
  • Discuss with internal contacts whether they would like to write (unlikely) or be interviewed (a better bet)
  • Manage the flow of copy to ensure interviews happen, articles are written and approvals are given – more time-consuming than you’d think
  • Set deadlines and mean them
  • Liaise with writers and designers
  • Say yes or no to contributors’ demands

This last point is really important. If your editor feels subservient to all the product and marketing managers in the building they will never be able to close down an article and get to publication. Contributors can range from seriously demanding when they recognise this as an opportunity to promote their corner to distinctly unhelpful if the day job is the only priority.

So you’re looking for someone strong and decisive – not simply a passer of messages. If that doesn’t work perhaps two people can step in to be the managing editor and the day-to-day controller.

The writer

The writer you hire – unless you have one inhouse – will have a mix of marketing, journalism and copywriting skills. So here’s the wish list:

  • Understanding of the subject area or willingness to learn
  • Curiosity about the audience and why they want to receive and read the content
  • Comfort in liaising with contributors and interviewees at any level of the organisation to set up interviews and review articles
  • Ability to plan and run interviews with the aim of the article and the magazine always in mind
  • Clear and intelligent writing skills
  • Knowledge of branding guidelines as well as good grammar
  • Ability to edit and proofread – probably their own copy as well as that of others
  • Commitment to deadlines
  • Willingness to liaise actively with everyone involved in the project

The designer

Whether your designer is inhouse or a hired-in freelance or agency, they’ll need to know how to work in a team. You can also look for:

  • Track history of designing for business
  • Access to and understanding of the brand guidelines
  • Willingness to both speak up if the content is too long to work and to know when the words are more important than the design
  • An eye for language that can help with proofreading and checking that the words work
  • Knowledge of images and where to find them

They’re not exhaustive or definitive lists. But if you can find people with these skills it’s going to make the business of creating that magazine distinctly easier.

Even if you’re not looking at magazines, it’s likely that this characteristics and skills will help you far along the path to a great content marketing programme too.

Visit the website for more on copywriting and journalism from Wrightwell.

If you’d like help with any or all of creating, planning, writing and editing your customer communications, from blogs to newsletters and magazines, get in touch with me for an initial discussion to see if I can help. Just drop me a line at [email protected]

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