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.