How to Influence Others to Write What You Need

By Susan Varty, Managing Partner

 

Not everyone can be a subject-matter expert in their industry, and if you work at a large corporation, there are many industries and/or products to cover. As a team member responsible for internal or external content or communications, you may have to rely on others to create what you need.

Writing is time-consuming in the best of circumstances, but (more to the point) it takes a lot persuasion, if you need expert input – or if you need a specialist to write something as part of a project.

I know that my firm helps to solve this problem for you, but here are some practical tips to drive change on your own and get things done when you have limited options:

Draft bullets

Blank pages can be daunting. If you have a vision for what you want, use bullets to create an outline. Bullets cover initial ideas, even if the expert does not use it to write the final piece.

Leave placeholders

Add text or notes highlighted in a different font colour or in brackets as a placeholder for what you need. I call it the “Star Trek method.” Star Trek writers used such placeholders for technical references in the script: [Spock, please insert tech speak here]. This is also handy for press releases when you need to draft a quote and attribute it to someone later to expedite approvals.

Set up informal meetings (with food if you can)

If you can, meet face-to-face, drop by the office, offer to bring coffee, etc. Try to meet with experts at your company informally, so you can interview them or ask how you can help write or manage what you need.

Repurpose and/or update

Do you have content written by a expert in the past? Can it can be updated for present needs? It is easier to update content, if only a few new paragraphs are required. Perhaps sections could be repurposed in another format – such as a video.

Interview and record

Conference lines are a great tool on their own to record discussions and they are critical when you cannot meet face-to-face. So, interview experts for the content you need and draft key points they can flush out. You can also share the recording, if you need someone else to write it.

Transcribe

If you have a recording or a video, send it to be transcribed. It may be expensive but it could be worth it to kickstart the writing process so you do not have to start from scratch. It is always easier to remove content from a written transcript to hone in on main points

Give them a voice recorder

Some people may share their thoughts more easily, if you give them a personal recorder to use throughout their busy days. If you cannot provide a device, there are many apps online – or they can call into a conference line on your system and press record (rather than try and share files).

Propose titles

People like choices. Sometimes a thought-provoking title is all they need to get started. So, provide three title options to get ideas flowing and broaden the scope of the conversation.

Give them perks and gamify

Team awards, rewards and competitions are certainly used with the sales team. Why not reuse some of their ideas and “gamify” content generation with your experts?

photo credit: Shanaka Kalubowila

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