Welcome to our July 2014 newsletter: Managing expectations
Whether you’re an in-house communicator or a consultant, taking the time to manage expectations at the outset of a project can prevent schedule slippages, budget blowouts and all the angst that goes along with that.
Enjoy our tips and, as always, we’d love your feedback via Facebook, Twitter or email us.
Regards from the @EconnectTeam:
By Mary O’Callaghan
Do you know a substantive edit from a copy edit?
Few people I have met understand the different levels of editing, so it is up to us editors to enlighten them and make sure that we are offering the service that they need, which may differ from the service they requested.
Editors often lean towards perfection but budgets rarely allow for perfection and, let’s face it, projects rarely demand perfection. What’s important is its ‘fit for purpose’.
Grammatical correctness, of course, is not negotiable. But much of the editor’s job is about making style decisions where there is no right or wrong option.
Will they want me to convert the instances of passive voice to active voice, which will lighten up the writing? Can they afford it? Do they even know what passive voice is? Perhaps they have a penchant for passive voice, having spent 30 years in academia.
One thing I’ve learnt as an editor is that if I don’t get a written brief from the prospective client, I write it myself and give it to them for their approval.
I find the best way to do this is to clearly itemise what I will do and, just as importantly, what I will not do.
I also spell out any assumptions that I have made about the manuscript and the process.
Itemising inclusions, exclusions and assumptions gives me a firm basis for estimating the work required and allows the client to pick up on any misunderstandings I may have about the project, which we can then rectify before the contract is in place, or at least before I start work on the project.
If the fee needs to be negotiated, both parties can consider which tasks are really necessary and come to a sensible agreement.
The transparency of this approach also builds the client’s trust—they know exactly what they are getting for their money.
The Canberra Society of Editors has a good commissioning checklist that covers the main factors to consider before commissioning an editor.
Proposals – balancing brevity and clarity
By Sarah Cole
Keeping a proposal or tender succinct and compelling is better for a potential client. In contrast, managing expectations often means writing more, not less.
To work out what depth I need to go into to describe processes, inclusions and exclusions, I look out for these 3 things:
- Unclear processes and fuzzy features – If the request for tender was not clear about an aspect of the project, it might be a sign that the client is unsure about what they want or need.
- New product/service – If the desired product/service is new to the client, I will probably go into more detail.
- Tender liaison person – If the tender liaison person is a communication professional, they will (should) understand the publication process better than, say, a scientist, in which case I will explain in more detail what we will deliver and how we will deliver it.
E-publishing – know your iBooks from your ePubs
By Alison Binney
Electronic publishing (also known as e-publishing or digital publishing) has been around for more than 20 years, but for many people it’s still a brave new world.
Popular formats include ePub, iBook, Kindle, Mobi and PDF.
An electronic publication is generally distributed and accessed via the internet.
But all formats do not work across all online platforms. And the ambiguity of terms such as e-book or e-publication complicate things further.
The most important difference between formats is the type of interactivity that is possible, such as:
- scrolling text
- animated page turns
- links to external content
- embedded videos and image galleries.
For example, a PDF brochure that you view on a computer using Yudu or Issuu will not have the same interactive capabilities as a brochure designed for an iPad or Android tablet device.
Unless you understand the differences, your expectations may be unrealistic, especially if you ask a designer to produce one thing and you expect another.
Make sure you understand which format best suits your needs by asking yourself these questions:
- What electronic devices are my audience likely to use?
- On what electronic device(s) do I want my audience to view this publication – computer, tablet, mobile phone?
- What interactivity do I want to include in the publication?
- How will the publication be distributed?
- Will I charge a fee for accessing the publication?
Your answers will affect how the content is packaged and what tools the designer will use to package the final product. Often you will need to use multiple formats to suit different devices and audiences.
Digital Publishing Australia has a useful digital publishing guide for understanding different types of electronic publications you can choose from.
We developed 2 electronic publications—an interactive PDF and an iBook—for the Queensland University of Technology Business School using the same content (text and images).
We designed and packaged the publications differently, and they offer different levels of interactivity.