At age 36, I was lucky enough to be promoted from the customer service department to a marketing communications position. With nearly 20 years in customer service behind me, it was a mid-career change as well as my dream job. The company took a chance on me since I was still working on my Bachelor’s degree. Fortunately, I had taken the advice of a mentor: take desktop publishing and writing classes first so you’ll be ready if an opportunity arises.
Soon after I took those classes, my predecessor allowed me to help with writing and editing, which gave me a chance to show my skills before the position unexpectedly opened. So there I was, with a small portfolio of desktop publishing samples from class and a couple of dozen articles written for the local weekly newspaper. I felt qualified to do the job but not confident I could convince anyone to hire me without a degree.
Jumping into the job with no formal experience was a challenge, and there were moments when I wondered if I had gotten in over my head. One of my duties was to edit the CEO’s monthly column for our business-to-customer (B2C) newsletter.
“Your job is to make me look good,” he said.
I took his comment to heart and have carried it with me through every writing and editing assignment since. Fortunately, his ego was not tied to his writing because this man was sorely in need of a skilled editor.
My next CEO’s writing skills were far better, and he was less enthusiastic about having his columns edited. As a more experienced editor, I convinced him that our customers were less likely to read an article filled with run-on sentences and industry jargon.
My third CEO’s knowledge of sentence structure was non-existent. A highly intelligent man who loved using obscure words, he couldn’t seem to get them in an order that made sense. Most months, I made three passes through his 8-page newsletter before it was readable. While this was sometimes a daunting task, it helped fine-tune my editing skills. In time, I could write in his “voice” (without the errors), and others sometimes commented on my ability.
In addition to these three men, I have written and edited copy for monthly newsletters, quarterly magazines, corporate annual reports, and countless company websites over the years. I’ve also edited numerous college and grad school papers for students with various skill levels, including English as a second language. Many times I’ve heard, “How did you know that’s exactly what I wanted to say? I just didn’t know how to write it.”
Of all the things I’ve done in the marketing field, I still helping others look good by shaping their writing into just what they wanted to say.
Contact Web Magic Digital Marketing to discuss how we can make you look good, too!