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“External Writers Are a Waste of Time”: Fact or Fiction?

“I’d love to work with more external content providers, but in my experience they simply don’t understand the nuances of our business / industry. We end up having to rewrite the content anyway.”


If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard some version of this statement from someone in charge of a marketing or communications function… well, I wouldn’t have enough to live on, but I’d certainly have enough to buy a couple of nice bottles of wine.


And there’s a reason why it’s said so often - in fact, I’ve said it many times myself during my in-house years. It’s true. It’s hard for external providers to build a solid understanding of technical and contextual nuances, particularly when you engage with them on a freelance ‘by the project’ basis.


Perhaps the scenario looks something like this: you have a writing project and your team is at capacity, so you tap into your network to get a referral for someone to engage on a freelance basis. They come highly recommended, with impeccable credentials.


You brief them, they interview your subject matter experts or clients, and spend a couple of weeks preparing the content. You’re confident you’ve got something good underway.


Finally it’s deadline day and you give them a gentle nudge, eager to press forward with internal vetting and design and layout.


Unfortunately, the content you get back is just… meh. It’s not bad, per se, but it’s not great, and needs at least some rewriting.


Why did I bother, you think to yourself.


If this sounds familiar, please be assured that the situation is normal. No one knows your business like you and your people, and it would take a very special freelancer to get it right, first time and all the time. It’s just not possible for most.


In recent blogs, I outlined the case for building strategic partnerships with one of more external content providers as a way to supplement your in-house capability. It’s worthwhile to build a longer-term partnership with someone external so they can build knowledge of your business and its quirks, without taking on the overheads of another full-time member of staff.


Think of it as somewhere between a freelance contractor, who gets it 50 percent right on the first go; and your full-time employee (who gets it 80 percent right on the first go, but is stretched so thin that you’re worried their head will pop off if they take on another project).


Strategic partnerships in action

To get a sense of how this looks in action, it’s worth taking a look at a case study from another industry.


Strategic partnerships have proved successful in other professions that require highly specific and specialised skills and knowledge.


German engineering company Robert Bosch GmbH manages a large workforce of former and retired employees across the world, who are brought back to consult and work on

projects, often at short notice. They also provide coaching and development to younger employees.


Amongst other benefits, the company claims a 92 percent satisfaction rate among these

workers’ customers.


You can take a look at the full case study here.


Find out more on Strategic Content Partnerships

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