Updated July 2023

How to form a successful team: Create the right roles

We're frequently asked to help clients build a project or in-house writing team. We start by identifying the critical roles (explained in part 1) needed and then look at who's best suited to fill them. Then we develop a set of "roles and rules".

Define roles and responsibilities

The Client Liaison

Is the main client contact who handles interactions between the creative team and the client/stakeholders. The ideal candidate is adept at working with people at all rungs of the corporate ladder and helping them meet deadlines.

The Planner/Pre-Writer

Is in charge of getting the right people to the table and facilitating their thinking. They are responsible for completing the pre-writing or planning document and getting it to the Client Liaison for approval by appropriate people before drafting begins. The best candidate is someone who can facilitate group work effectively and manage egos. This person can also be the Drafter.

The Drafter

Has the most content knowledge and the ability to write quickly. They make their own revisions and edits before sharing the with the Big Reviser. In addition to preparing the draft, they process all client/stakeholder and team revisions and edits.

The Reviser/s

Is the person/people focused on making the text more effective. On some teams the Reviser is a single person. On others, revision is split between two people. The conceptual changes are handled by an account or strategy side person and the technical changes by someone who's strong on usage, word choice and sentence structure/fluency.

Conceptual revisions
•    Purpose. Make sure the purpose is clear, and that the main idea and details support it.
•    Main Idea. What’s the most important thing we want readers to know? Is that obvious?
•    Details. Look closely at the draft’s details. Are they the right ones and is there enough description for the reader?
•    Beginning. Is the beginning engaging enough to entice people to read?
•    Ending. Does the closing leave the reader with a clear sense of what was important and what they need to think or do?
•    Order. Is the information organized in a way that leads the reader into the conclusion? Does the document flow fluidly from one point to the next?

Technical improvements
•    Reduce total word count.
•    Choose better verbs, and using fewer of them.
•    Remove unnecessary introductory phrases and parenthetical remarks.
•    Delete qualifying statements.
•    Take out repetitive phrases or ideas.
•    Correct deeply nested constructions.
•    Adjust tone to ensure it’s appropriate for the audience.

Check out our deck on revisions.

The Editor/Proofer

Is the resident expert on SPUG (spelling, punctuation, usage and grammar). They look for errors in words, sentences and paragraphs; and ensure style requirements are met. The Editor/Proofer should see the document as close to go-live as possible and for a minimum number of times so they have “fresh eyes” to catch errors others have missed.

The Production/Traffic Coordinator

Moves the project from point to point in the process and makes final preparations for production. They should be a solid organizer and scheduler. This role could be played by the Client Liaison or the Drafter.

Getting people in the right roles isn’t just feel-good team-building stuff. Research shows that working at the nexus of what we like to do, what we do best and what is valuable to the organization benefits employees and employers alike. This good fit increases productivity and performance, attendance and job satisfaction. Get this right and  you improve the quality of your content and the bottom line.

Need help building your own team or designing a project? Contact me.

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