You have several different subject matter experts providing content, and all of them have their own “voice.”
You have multiple written deliverables, and none of them look or read the same.
You spend way too much time training new employees – and monitoring your veterans – on the intricacies of your corporate communications policies.
You have a hard time delivering a consistent message that reflects your company culture across all channels.
If you recognize any of the above scenarios, it’s past time to introduce company-wide editorial guidelines.
We love guidelines. It’s not that we’re particularly hard-and-fast rule-followers, but there’s a peace of mind that comes with knowing what to expect. Rather than seeing guidelines as restrictions, we appreciate the structure that they provide. Editorial guidelines are a reference point for anyone creating written collateral for your company. And the best part is, if yours are strong enough, they benefit everyone in the organization.
We help you ensure a common style throughout your communications – whether it’s a single piece of written collateral or your entire line of corporate communications – to maintain consistency in your messaging.
When we talk about editorial guidelines, we generally categorize them into three main groups: stylebooks, social media guides, and branding guidelines.
1. Style Guidelines
For our long-term clients with multiple projects, we typically institute a client-specific style guide to maintain editorial consistency across every piece. (This is usually part of our overall service, although we are occasionally hired just to create one.) Some clients bring their corporate guidelines, which we then apply to every piece; for others, we create a comprehensive guide that is easy to follow for both The Writers For Hire and your in-house copywriters.
Keep in mind that there are several well-established “traditional” stylebooks already out there (AP Style Guide, APA Style, Chicago Manual of Style), and many companies simply adopt one of these. But other companies find that, for whatever reason, these established books don’t exactly apply to their situation. This is where developing your own in-house style guideline makes sense.
Your stylebook could be one page or one hundred pages. It all depends on your level of specificity as you detail the editorial rules that are specific to your organization such as:
- Style and tone
- Headline styles
- Bold face and italics
- Lists, bullet points, and block quotes
- Photos and captions
2. Social Media Guidelines
Sure, we all understand by now that writing for print is completely different from writing for the web. But keep in mind that every social channel has its own conventions. If your company often repurposes your web content for multiple social media accounts, you could be missing the mark. And it’s unfair to assume that everyone writing for your internet-based applications innately knows how to do this. That’s where your social media guidelines will come in super-handy. You can help your writers maintain consistency across all channels by establishing clear and easy-to-follow guidelines on structure and SEO best practices.
We’re not talking about your company’s overall social media strategy; we’re strictly speaking of getting all your employees to write with a common voice throughout the social sphere. Things we help you consider include:
- Your audience
- Post length
- Tone of voice
- Use of links
- Use of images
- Keywords/SEO optimization
- Comment/response policy
3. Branding Guidelines
Your brand is your corporate identity; it’s what makes your company unique. By establishing branding guidelines, you give your employees a useful roadmap they can refer to in conveying your corporate philosophy to the marketplace.
Your branding guidelines incorporate your editorial style guide, your social media guide, and much more. Because so much is communicated through nonverbal or sensory channels, it’s vital to establish a uniform visual identity and consistent creative strategy that your customers will recognize.
We work with you to establish your comprehensive corporate identity style manual. We understand the elements to consider in creating your handbook on policies regarding the formatting and visual presentation of all company communications. These typically take into account:
- Logo usage
- Typography treatment
- Color palettes and templates
- Photographs and illustrations
- Editorial stylebooks
- Exceptions or special situations
Put Your Best Face Forward
Just like the rigorous rules or principles of practice governed by your profession, corporate communications adhere to their own standards. Editorial guidelines ensure that every one of your written pieces delivers a consistent message.
Consistency is key. It conveys integrity and breeds trust. Just as producing a consistently high-quality product is important, so is the ability to describe it consistently. Too much variation can confuse the market and even compromise your brand equity.
In order to win – and keep – customers, your products and services must be predictable and reliable. And how you communicate with your customers can speak volumes about your company culture. And it may sound petty or even far-fetched, but inconsistent messaging can destroy your corporate credibility.
It could be that yours is a multinational that needs to make sure you use consistent units of measure for clarity. Perhaps you’ve just redesigned your logo and need to guarantee that everyone’s using the right one in the right colors. Or you might need industry-specific terminology with distinct acronyms. Or maybe your CEO simply prefers the Oxford comma. Whatever the idiosyncrasies, we’ll work with you to compile them into guide that all employees will be able to follow.
Editorial guidelines are an integral part of your corporate identity, regardless of your particular industry. We’ve helped hundreds of clients, both B2B and B2C, enhance their brand across various market sectors:
Guidelines Help Editing and Proofreading, Too
Editorial guidelines reduce confusion among your writers, but keep in mind that they can’t replace the need for solid editing and proofreading.
Once you’ve retained The Writers For Hire to create your style, social media, and/or branding guidelines, you’ve got a go-to team of editing and proofreading experts ready to help you ensure that your writers are following the rules you’ve set in place. The beauty is, we’ve already gotten to know your company – so we’ll jump right in as a seamless extension of your writing team.
- Reviewing your copy to improve the flow and overall quality of your writing.
- Ensuring readability.
- Correcting errors or inconsistencies.
- Revising sentences and paragraphs.
- Making the copy cleaner and clearer.
- Guaranteeing your copy follows your designated style guide, if necessary.
- Reading your final draft (after it has been edited and approved) to remove any last errors.
- Examining the layout and/or formatting.
- Double-checking dates, URLs, page numbers, and other pertinent details.