What are you really looking for?

By Shae Lalor

When I put together a quote for a new client, it's important to demonstrate my professional track record. I know it helps clients to make a decision when they can get a sense of my expertise and experience.

Yet I was recently asked by a client about the industries I specialise in as a copywriter and editor. Strangely, I found it a really tough question to answer.

Here's why.

  • I write or edit to a brief. Regardless of the subject matter, I bring the same approach to understanding the purpose, the audience and the required tone/style.
  • I work on text about all manner of topics. Just this year, I have worked for businesses in catering, human resources, workplace health, event management, tourism, landscape design, audit, building, early childhood, nutrition, rehabilitation, aged care, environment, health and transport. I've even written about gluten-free bread and balustrades! I often become a temporary specialist while I'm working on a topic.
  • I do have fields of knowledge based on my previous work experience (such as disability, vocational rehabilitation, and tourism) that do help me understand issues relevant to these industries. And while I admit it can make my job easier with this in-built knowledge, I also have to be careful to continually question my own existing assumptions about the topic.
  • Time and again, I have witnessed how fresh eyes can bring attention to a glaring error or omission. An outsider's view (whether they be external to your organisation or your industry) helps you reflect on whether you've made assumptions about the audience's level of knowledge.
  • Don't get me wrong, technical knowledge has its place. It's particularly valuable in scientific or medical fields. However, with a clear, tight brief, a good writer or editor can bring new perspectives and experience, while still ensuring compliance with terminology or style.
  • It's often the intangible skills that deliver the greatest results: someone willing to bring exploration, creativity, observation, reflection, humour and authenticity to the task at hand, while still meeting the brief.

Next time you're looking for just the right person to bring that little extra something to your brochure, report or website, maybe it's time to look beyond the technical specialists in your field and you may be surprised at what you discover.