We've been talking a lot lately about the difference between being a writer and being a reporter. I have to admit I hadn't thought much about it before now. But when a client asked me to help her break down a large content project, the diverse skills of each role became apparent.

Many people can take source material and write a great piece. Some of those people can do it quickly. But not every writer is an effective interviewer, and not every writer can turn solid copy fast. Getting the most from a source, crafting it into strong content and doing that in a short timeframe is the stock and trade of reporters.

In looking at mission-critical roles for our client's project, it was clear that some content was appropriate for the in-house writer. But a whole slew of the new copy required interviewing subject-matter experts -- and that required the talents of an experienced reporter. We ended up structuring the project so the in-house writer could do what she does best. We're putting a couple of our reporters (myself included) on the other part of project. In this way, we're ensuring that everyone's deployed for their "highest and best use" as we say in the real estate biz.

This close look at roles is a core concept of good project planning, and we've been doing it a long time here at The Word Factory. Especially in small businesses like ours, having people doing the work they're best at is good business. Cycles are saved and people are motivated. When we're being effective and productive, we're all happier, we feel successful. Here's an article we wrote for Monster.com on this topic: Five tips for better team writing.

Are you a writer or a reporter? And how do you make sure your teammates are in the right roles for optimal success?

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We believe so much in our highest-and-best-use approach that we developed a workshop around it: You CAN Get There From Here. Check it out and let us know if you'd like to book it for 2010. You can find more of our workshops here.