By now, I hope your school has created the position of director of communications. And if you’re keeping up with the times, you also have an associate or assistant responsible for the website and social media. This puts your school in good shape for producing well-written content for both electronic and print communications.
Although the material may have multiple original sources—especially from admission, advancement, athletics and auxiliary programs—one person with editing experience should coordinate the total manuscript to guard against toneless, writing-by-committee text.
First and foremost, your published messages must be written to connect with the intended audience by anticipating their questions, concerns, needs and motivations. Careful thought must be given to both public relations issues and marketing research findings in constructing new text for all your communications, including your school magazine.
Your editor will make sure the copy is: mission-centric (truly representative of your deeply held values and culture); clear and concise (much school writing is unnecessarily wordy); not overstated (remember you have to deliver on your promise or risk losing trust); the right fit for the medium (web, video, email, letter, brochure).
Any major changes in program, leadership or facilities should be anticipated to avoid producing a new piece that will be out of date soon after it appears. Review of final manuscripts by administrative and academic leaders can help catch potential problems. Regularly update your website and prune out obsolete or irrelevant content.
In a nutshell:
- Centralize supervision of editing for the web and major print pieces
- Put yourself in your readers’ shoes
- Let your message flow from your mission
- Don’t over-promise; you’ll come to regret it
- Make your words memorable