Technical Communication Poll: Creating Marketing Content

Originally created by Antonio Prohias for Mad Magazine in January, 1961 © EC Publications, Inc

The New Spy vs Spy
(Originally created by Antonio Prohias for Mad Magazine in January, 1961 © EC Publications, Inc)

During August, TechWhirl plans to explore the nearly legendary battle between practitioners of technical communication and marketing communication.  Technical writers have been complaining about marketing writers for at least as long as the TechWhirl discussion list has existed. And for marcom folks working in technology industries, it’s likely that just as many complaints get lobbed in the other direction.

Some thought leaders in technical communication have begun to discuss how this traditional antagonism seems to be, or ought to be disappearing. Tom Johnson wrote about the emergence of content marketing back in November of 2011, in his post,  Moving Towards the “Dark Side”: From Technical Writing to Content Marketing.  Back in 2006 (and probably before that) I made the statement on the discussion list that “it’s all marketing,” and had a few folks agree with me, and more who disagreed. My notion then was that good information about the product or service was central, and whether your title was Technical Writer, Copywriter, or Prettifier of Content, was not particularly relevant.

These days I see an increasing number of technical communicators handle tasks that traditionally were managed by someone in marketing communications.

So in an effort to figure out whether technical communication and marketing communication professionals have identical, or at least overlapping, skill sets and business objectives, this week’s technical communication poll is aimed at finding out what kinds of “dark side” content are assigned to us these days. Perhaps you create only traditional technical communication content–instructions, procedures, definitions, etc.–or perhaps some of what you create blurs the line.  We’re interested in learning about the kinds of content you work on, and feel free to tell us about your comfort level, challenges, and successes with creating stuff that has sizzle and not just steak.

What kinds of traditional marketing content have you been assigned to create?

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Jacquie Samuels

10 years ago

I can’t imagine a Marketing professional writing a white paper. Is it just me?

Al Martine

Al Martine

10 years ago

hmm, I almost drafted this to say that white papers, case studies and other more content based marketing are done for branding purposes. Look at McKinsey and Co’s release of white papers as a good example. These are done to establish thought-leadership and to help build a reputation in a particular area.

however, if you mean a broader – would someone who works in marketing ever draft a white paper? I’d sugget the moment these papers are published the authors are marketers. And that a lot of marketers will inevitably coordinate the development of these pieces.

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