Fast and Accurate: Publishing Quality Content on a Rushed ScheduleContent Strategy
Time is the one constraint that effects us all equally. Custom publications are no exception; magazines and newsletters of every size and budget all face the challenge of completing each issue on schedule. Of course, deadlines themselves aren't the real problem; the challenge is maintaining the quality of the content without hampering production. Your magazine is the public face of your organization and the benefits of building a reputation for high-quality, engaging material are well documented. Custom publishers who build efficiency into their editorial processes are able to link their brand messaging with current events or new innovations in the marketplace; positioning themselves as industry leaders and gaining a competitive advantage over the competition.
However, the rewards of efficiency also come with a risk: one small error or unfortunate oversight can eliminate the good will you've developed with your readers. In order to avoid the damage caused by mistakes in published content, you only need to establish processes to ensure accuracy even when you are on an expedited schedule.
1. Fact Check
Trust is an essential part of any strong relationship. This applies to companies and their customers, partners in business and any give-and-take in the commercial world. Even a small inaccuracy can introduce doubt into the mind of a reader. The specific fact is less important than what the content may say about your organization.
An exaggeration may imply that, as a business, you over-promise and under-deliver. An old statistic may imply you don't stay up-to-date with changes in the industry. When your content is of a low quality, that tells your customers your product may also not pass muster.
Encourage your writers and editors to check all facts in the content. If something can't be verified and isn't important, leave it out. Make things run smoothly by establishing a list of sources to cross-check all statistics, quotes or other facts you may want to use. Focus on industry reports, government publications and recognized journals, or whatever information is the gold standard of your industry.
2. Spell Check
Typos can result in embarrassing mistakes. A simple inversion of letters can turn "files" into "flies." Even an innocuous error implies the publisher was sloppy and did not take care to review the content. Readers place less trust in content that appears to have been churned out in a rush, without regard for its accuracy.
Mistakes in grammar, such as confusing "there," "their" and "they're," are common, but in a professional publication give the impression writers may have limited knowledge. A piece by a respected and established industry leader may have reduced impact if it is riddled with grammatical errors.
To solve these issues, run a spell- and grammar-check on your word processing program. Task all team members with reviewing for typos even if, strictly speaking, it's not their role: designers should keep an eye out for inverted letters in text, and writers should call attention to a potential inconsistency in a design font or color scheme.
3. Cross Train
To make team members comfortable with scrutinizing content, they should have a cursory understanding of the respective roles of their colleagues. Writers should know the process engaged in by designers and vice versa, so everyone knows whether a draft of a schematic or text is a mere brainstorm or close to publication. Publication teams should all have an established workflow that is known to all members.
As you establish your editorial schedule, create a checklist to ensure publications meet your standards. Share it with your team in an easy to access location. Empower everyone (not just copy editors) to spot and fix errors so all members of your team can take ownership of the quality of your product. Accuracy is not only an ethically sound objective but one in which all of your collaborators can take pride.