HomeBlog The Necessary Evil of an Editorial Function

The Necessary Evil of an Editorial Function

September 23, 2015 | By Kate Pierpont

  • There is no quicker way to lose the attention and trust of an audience than to deliver content that is hastily churned out
  • Keep in mind that if you don’t care enough to get it right, why should your audience give you their time to read it?
  • When the value of strong content is recognized, it can make an important contribution to the success of your organization

I was bitten early by the bug. Bespectacled, early-onset braces … it was pretty much a given that I would turn to books. My first brush with editorship came in the fifth grade as an editor of the poorly photocopied and now out-of-print St. Lawrence Gazette. I was standing with our teacher looking at another student’s 1980s-style bubble-lettered submission for the masthead design. “Looks great!” our teacher enthused. “It really does,” I agreed. “But – there should actually be a period after ‘St.’” I snagged a glare from my classmate and the faint praise of “Good catch” from the teacher, and it was there where my aspirations of becoming a private investigator were cast aside forever and I knew I wanted to be an editor.

Editors get a bad rap. I get it. We are…well, we are kind of annoying. That is to say, editors can be fastidious and nitpicky and not always quick to greenlight something when time is of the essence. But after many years working in the magazine industry, I can’t even begin to relay the hundreds of small deaths I’ve died upon seeing something in print that I and a phalanx of other editors have missed, even after several rounds of editing and proofreading. Most often, the goofs that see the light of day are seemingly small (although I think every editor has his or her “Headline Goes Here” war story), but it doesn’t make the bitter pill of less-than-perfect any easier to swallow.

However, even though there can be misses, there are countless catches that editors make that the audience will never know about – whether it be the final spit-and-polish to the content, adherence to good grammar and house style and the organization’s content mission, or a fact check on the correct spelling of a product, feature or function – now, more than ever, editors are necessary. There is no quicker way to lose the attention and trust of an audience than to deliver content that is hastily churned out. If you don’t care enough to get it right, why should your audience give you their time to read it? As SiriusDecisions has stated time and again, when the value of strong content is recognized and supported, it can make an important contribution to the success of your organization.

And the fact is, editors really care. Don’t laugh – we do! Even when it’s subject matter that’s not our bailiwick (I could tell you entirely too much about egg-crate grilles or one-of-a-kind aircraft like the McDonnell XP-67 Bat), it’s impossible not to get caught up in the enthusiasm of the writer and want to convey that enthusiasm to the audience. Editors want to do our utmost to make the organization and its communications and offerings look and sound great – even if it means company-wide persecution (or is perhaps “disdain” the better word choice?). Editors: prone to exaggeration, but necessary!

As an editor here at SiriusDecisions – where one of the key topics we cover is content operations – for the first time in my career I’m finding myself functioning as a word nerd in quite a different, and very vital, capacity. It’s become much more than just plucking out errant commas or fixing there, their and they’re; it’s about helping our analysts deliver actionable intelligence and guidance to our clients. As someone who really sees what goes on backstage, I can say with certainty that, from inception to delivery, everyone at SiriusDecisions cares deeply about our content and how it helps fulfill our mission as the leading b-to-b research and advisory firm.

Don’t get me wrong, we editors are still the first in line to make sure the apostrophe in buyer’s journey is in the right place and that acronyms like SFA and SME are spelled out at first mention. All that high-level, bigger-picture stuff will never take away the fun of brandishing a red pen – and, while I have you – it’s Sirius (named for the brightest star in the sky – fun fact, right?)Decisions (closed up, cap D).

On second thought, maybe we editors will always be a little annoying.

Kate Pierpont

Kate Pierpont is an editor at SiriusDecisions and has nearly 20 years of editorial experience, the majority of which was in magazine publishing. Follow Kate on Twitter @KatePierpont.

Featured SiriusEvents®

Join Us at #SDSummit