I’m going to reverse the Q&A today.
What I want to know is: What is a quality business publication, in your eyes?
The idea of setting a known quality standard for your business publication might sound frankly ridiculous to some of you — it’s not your core business, right? — but the reality is that if you don’t have a known standard, then you can’t judge whether what you’re doing is good or crap. You can’t even judge it based on your own ideas, because you haven’t formalised your own ideas into any kind of form, certainly not one that can be communicated.
There are international standards that you can lean on, but you really don’t have to go to that extent. Let me explain.
How often have you asked your team members to do some kind of newsletter, or blog, or, hell, maybe you’ve got a bangin’ podcast, but whatever they produce has made you unhappy with the result… but you’ve been unable to fully explain why?
Your lack of a standard is why.
When I was a publisher, I always maintained — still do — a very high standard for my writers. Working for me is an absolute bitch, because I set the bar ridiculously high. Even in CD reviews. If anyone tried to submit anything that was full of flowery adjectives, and didn’t actually say anything, you bet they heard about it. While it’s not fun to have someone tear your work down, when you’re a writer who’s never worked with a pro before, it’s the fastest way to level up. We had a checklist and a style guide; if anybody didn’t comply, they got one shot.
It’s that simple.
The same thing needs to apply in your business publishing.
What you want to do is establish quality standards for your publication, and do it early. Set a bar. Know the components and what it looks like. Be able to explain it. Better yet, have a checklist.
(And, surprise surprise, a checklist speeds up your approval process. If it passes the checklist there is no more debate to be entered into, even if the principal in your firm doesn’t like the word ‘should’.)
It also makes working with a professional in the field much easier. If you need to outsource your work, and you don’t have quality standards, you’ll end up going back and forth with your writer or whoever, for ages. You’ll nitpick about things that, frankly, is their bread and butter (it’s not yours).
You’ll eventually piss them off (but they’re needy and won’t say anything); you might even end up feeling like the entire process is a waste of time.
Worst-case, you’ll just keep doing it yourself, because that’s your ONLY measure of ‘what’s acceptable’. I’m here to tell you that it’s not acceptable.
It’s a rookie mistake.
Working with creatives isn’t rocket science. Like all areas of business, you just need rigour.
Having been around the block a few times, I know how not to let non-experts fiddle and mark things up. It’s a waste of your time, because it’s very likely that you won’t have a quality standard. You don’t even have a clue about best-practices for content online. You’re just guessing, and leaning on information you learned at uni (or, worse, high school).
When you work with the Pixies, you give feedback verbally, and you get one shot at it.
It sounds tough, but it works brilliantly for our ongoing clients, who appreciate our no-BS approach. If you’re thinking you might want to become one of them, go read more about it at: