Why Every Association Needs an Editor
Excellent editorial work is invisible to readers, but errors are not
I often joke that to be an editor is to have an invisible profession—after all, the editor’s role is only apparent to everyone else when it is done poorly.
Absolutely no one notes the perfect inclusion of a comma or a phrase turned ever so slightly so as to be more affecting. But nearly every reader will recoil at a misspelled word or an incorrect fact. And most will internalize that error as a mark against the content producer, regardless of whether that person is a colleague or the president of an association of peers (or maybe especially if that person is an expert!).
Yet, despite the importance of clean, consistent, concise text, editors often get a bad rap. I would be lying if I said I’d never had a debate with an author about commas; I’ve even had more than one person get a bit heated with me over some well-meant editorial suggestions.
But a page full of red pen doesn’t need to scare you.
In fact, editors are an incredibly valuable resource in your marketing toolbox for a host of reasons that go well beyond good grammar.
1. Editors are trained to make content consistent and authentic to your voice, which increases visibility and fosters consumer trust in your brand.
According to a study by Lucidpress, in partnership with Demand Metric, organizations that present their brand consistently across all platforms are three to four times more likely to have excellent brand visibility. And organizations that improve on their brand consistency issues see an average revenue increase of 23%.
Authenticity and the brand “voice” are a huge part of that consistency. According to a report by Stackla, a leading user-generated content platform, 86% of consumers said authenticity in communications was important to their decision to support a brand.
These statistics may refer to for-profit companies, but the message is universal: a consistent brand makes you more visible among your potential member base and encourages greater interaction from your existing membership.
Having a style guide can help marketers create content that aligns with the organization’s brand and values, but their primary skillset is in selling an idea. Editors, however, are trained to spot small discrepancies that could mean the difference between an authentic message and a tone-deaf missive—and they are likely to become enthusiastic ambassadors for your brand’s style and voice.
2. Editors can spot factual errors and other potential issues before they reach the audience.
Readers today are more informed and involved than ever—and they won’t hesitate to call out brands they trust when they feel mislead or when the values they share with the organization are not being upheld.
Editors are trained to fact-check content and to stay constantly abreast of the ways language is changing to ensure every message is accurate and represents your association’s vision and voice.
For example, many years ago, you may not have hesitated to use a phrase like “all lives matter.” But as our culture changes, so, too, does the meaning of seemingly simple phrases as they become associated with specific values or ideologies.
Even in associations’ own niche communities, the connotations of words can change drastically—and if you don’t believe me, just check out the ongoing debate among healthcare professionals regarding the word “provider” to describe their population.
Editors are experts at spotting possible pain points well before publication to ensure your message reflects your association’s voice and values, and that you are speaking to members in the most respectful, accurate, and up-to-date way possible, regardless of how our shared language evolves.
Just remember: if an editor doesn’t tell you there’s an issue, your readers certainly will—and they’re likelier to do it in a much more public way.
3. Editors see your content from 20,000 feet and in the weeds, helping you have a more holistic view of your marketing and publications.
Beyond taxes, there is another universal truth: when you’re too close to a project, it can be impossible to spot the problems with it.
Editors offer an objective eye and the ability to spot—and fix!—the many problems that tend to creep into publications (including those “trees” your authors or project managers may have missed in the “forest” and no longer can see).
But it’s not just about the details. Editors also are skilled at evaluating how your communications are working together, giving you invaluable insight into the broader messages being sent by every product and post and enabling you to achieve your content goals.
I often say, no piece of great genius has ever been born unto the world completely unedited—and when it comes to helping your association achieve its goals, having an editor to ensure your message is clear, concise, and consistent is even more important.
Danielle Leber is a managing editor at AMC.
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