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I’ve had the privilege of working with the top contractor in the state of Texas in addition to some of the top construction companies in the city of San Antonio. For some, I have been able to work on their employee publications, but for others, I have simply seen the need for a publication.

Photo by James C. Mattison

Photo by James C. Mattison

For one, construction companies typically have a diverse list of capabilities. Why not showcase your range of abilities through a marketing publication sent to your current customers and potential customers. Showcase how you used a new type of concrete to build your latest project. Outline how you shaved two months off a project’s schedule through pre-mobilization planning. Tell how you worked hand-in-hand with the project’s engineers to save the customer money. Stories like this will reconfirm your customers’ choice in contracting you and hopefully show others why they should use your company for their next project. Also, it will show the customer you built a hospital for why it should consider you for its next multi-purpose building. 

 Secondly, turnover is typically high among construction companies’ employees. To help keep your employees working for you and not switching to your competitor, think about starting an employee publication. Tell your employees about the great benefits you offer. Help them see the company’s future. Let them know that things are still going well — especially in today’s economic times. Talk about your new training programs. Thank them for their hard work. The more you can stay in front of your employees, the better. This is especially true if your organization is spread across a state or even the country. Help your employees know that they matter to you.

Finally, the publication can serve as a recruitment piece. With one magazine you can show recent graduates why your company is a great place to work. They’ll see the projects that you have been a part of. They can see the benefits you offer your employees. A publication can be a great introduction to your organization.

For a company publication, there are a few “typical” departments who could lead your publication. Choosing one is an important decision and can play a large role in the success of the publication and the overall direction the publication takes. Here are a few departments who naturally oversee your publication.

1. Employee Relations / Human Resources. When creating an employee publication, your employee relations / human resources department is an obvious choice. This group of people is already focused on your employees. It will keep the employees’ best interests at heart.

2. Corporate Communications. The great thing about the corporate communications team running the publication is that its team members should already be great writers. They understand grammar and punctuation. They get the details, which can help make the publication a great one. Also, they typically know the company news, thus story ideas should be readily available.

3. Marketing. The marketing team will typically think of the multiple ways the publication can be used. Even if it is an employee publication, the marketing team will add its spin to the publication to make it worthwhile to advancing the company. Plus, they will know what information needs to be included in the publication to help gain new customers.

Now, I have worked with numerous editors from these different departments who have been able to combine the benefits of each group to their publication’s benefit. Ideally, that is what you will find. Someone who can keep the employees’ needs at heart, help advance the organization and keep the quality of the publication high through strong editing.

As I said in an earlier post, I believe the best situation is to let an out-of-house organization (like a PR firm) run your in-house publication. However, any publication still has to have a company department and / or editor in charge. Picking the right department, in a way, confirms how you want your publication run and what purpose you want it to have, so choose wisely.

Doctors and patientDuring the past two years, I have been a part of at least three different hospital publications — two magazines and one newsletter. From my work on these publications, I have seen some great ways for hospitals to use publications to achieve various purposes.

1. Marketing your offerings. Hospitals have uncountable offerings. From community events to inpatient surgeries to outpatient needs, there are numerous things to talk about. A publication is a great way to talk to your community about what you offer. Talk about how your doctors are using cutting-edge technology. Introduce people to your groundbreaking research studies. Welcome new doctors. Ensure that when people think of great hospitals in your area that your hospital is the first on their list.

2. Donor relations. This holds true for any nonprofit or not-for-profit organization. A publication is a great way to keep your donors informed of what your hospital is doing and how you use their generous support to offer the best services possible. It also shows your donors that they matter to you and is a way to stay in-front of them year round — hopefully to generate additional donations.

3. Educate the public. One role hospitals have in their community is to keep the public educated. While this is often done through public relations and events (i.e., monthly health screenings), it also can be accomplished through a community publication. Use the magazine’s pages to talk about healthy eating, skin cancer detectors and the importance of keeping your children active. This is a great way to position your hospital as the one in the community that cares.

For any company publication, an editorial board plays an important role in ensuring a variety of voices are represented. It helps keep the coverage widespread and, typically, will help ensure the goals of the publication are met. Because of these important end results, it is important that you choose your editorial board carefully.

Photo By Mary Ann Muher

Photo by Mary Ann Mulhern

1. Find people who will work well together. Editorial board meetings are often filled with heated discussions and debates. Because of this, it is important to choose editorial board members who will stay cool under fire. You need even-tempered people who can debate but also discuss. You want to keep out people who will try to monopolize the editorial board meetings and instead find people who are team players. Choose those who will put their personal vendettas aside for the good of the publication.

2. Pick opinionated people. While this may appear to be in contrast to reason No. 1, but it actually is right in line. You don’t want to choose editorial board members who will sit on the sidelines and not contribute. Frankly, it is a waste of a seat. You need people who will bring ideas to the table, represent the company and help make the decisions that drive the publication forward.

3. Represent the company. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts how important it is for one group to not monopolize the publication. Whether the publication is going to your customers or to your employees, more than likely the goal is to well-represent your company to its fullest. That means showcasing different departments or divisions. When choosing your editorial board members, ensure you have people who represent all facets of the company. This way, when they bring story ideas to the table, you hear the great works from all across your organization.

4. Choose a leader. It is true that everyone can’t be a leader, but someone needs to be. There has to be a person who can break ties and make the decisions that no one else is willing to make. This person also needs to be willing to stand up for the editorial board if and when a story or decision is questioned by outside sources.

5. Have a contrarian. On the editorial boards I have been a part of or managed, some of my favorite people to work with are the ones who voice the opinion that no one else is willing to say. You need the person who will stand up to the popular vote and help people see things in a different way. This helps keep your publication honest and, in many cases, keeps you from writing an article  or publishing a photo that could damage the organization.

What do you think? What are things you consider when choosing an editorial board?

Write-me-a-letter

By Linda Cronin

I’ve had this conversation with a few people lately, so I thought it was time to expose everyone to the world of editing.

When I edit anything — ad copy, press release, bylines, articles, etc. — there are two ways I edit. The amount of time I have dictates which way I edit.

Method 1: Grammar and punctuation

The first time I look over anything I go through word for word and edit for grammar and punctuation. I have to do this first or I can’t really even concentrate on what the words are saying. I don’t want to be caught up in the misspelled words, misplaced commas and wrongly used semicolons.  When people ask me to do a quick read, this is typically what they get. It is down and dirty and just gets the basics done.

Method 2: Content

When I am given the time, I then reread the writing for its content. This is when I can tell if thoughts are conveyed well, if the introduction ties to the main point and if a conclusion wraps everything together. For RFP reviews, this is when I can add my own ideas or challenge the ones presented.

So, when I am editing, I always try to find out what my colleague / client needs. Do they need method 1, 2 or both? People usually don’t take offense to method 1, but 2 is where you can easily start ruffling some feathers. However, I believe it is important for every writing to be analyzed in both ways. This allows for clean, strong copy to be presented, which is ultimately good for you and for your client.

I’m only a few posts in to the new direction of this blog, and I already feel like I need to make a clarification. I’m talking here about publications. Now, I realize that the automatic reaction when I say “publication” is to think of a printed newsletter or magazine, but this is only one piece of the puzzle.

In today’s Web 2.0 world, social media is a buzz word and companies keep asking how they can use blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc., to connect not only with their customers but with their employees as well. Online publications are one way.

You can have a publication solely online. Don’t restrict yourself to printed items that have to be mailed. While there are some industries that definitely need the latter, as the population becomes more tech savvy there will be more companies that can successfuly achieve the purpose of an internal publication through an online publication. Future posts will get into more of the details of strategies and functions an online publication can have, but for now I just want to ensure your mind is open to a publication world beyond the printed word.

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