Editors play an important role in guiding how a brand’s content comes to life. While a brand’s marketing team might be focused on ‘selling’ a specific product or message, an editor will help them execute an editorial strategy that is both creative and effective at reaching a particular audience.
The editor does this by being both the visionary and gatekeeper for all the content produced by a brand or organisation. This means the editor will constantly be asking whether a piece of content is relevant and useful for your particular audience. This is why many writers and editors from a journalistic background have found careers in content marketing – they are highly committed to their audiences – although it’s worth noting that not all journos find the transition to content marketing an easy one.
In addition, the editor will lead the vision for all content, ensure the tone of voice and look and feel are consistent, and that all content is in line with the brand’s style guide. They’ll also plan, commission and produce content for print and online and ensure all content has an authentic narrative.
Unlike a content strategist, marketing manager or content producer, an editor brings an editorial eye, the ability to tell a compelling story in plain language, writing and editing skills, an understanding of aesthetics and, most importantly, that deep commitment to the audience.
How editors approach their work
An editor will always start by working closely with a content strategist, to get an understanding of the content strategy. They’ll want to deep dive into research in the particular sector or industry, get access to any data, scrutinise marketing personas, devour any sector-specific publications or websites and spend a lot of time asking your team questions, in order to really understand what your brand does, how you do it and who your customers are. Often brands will work with editors who are already specialists in a particular sector, but an editor will always want to ask more questions, to really get a feel for the organisation.
From there, an editor will collaborate with a content strategist to create a content plan of how articles, videos, magazines and social media will come to life and what each piece of content will actually consist of. They’ll draw up a detailed content calendar that outlines when content will be published. This is a collaborative process, involving the broader marketing team. Then it’s onto commissioning, producing and publishing content, according to the agreed plan and then analysing its performance and making changes as needed.
Why editors have to be versatile
Hardie Grant Media’s editors in Melbourne and Sydney mostly have a journalism background. But their work differs depending on their experience and interests, which client they’re working with and the nature of the project.
Plus, editors will always work with other types of editors in order to create an effective and accurate piece of content. At Hardie Grant Media alone, we’ve got many different editorial roles, including managing editors, commissioning editors, editors, subeditors, proofreaders, deputy editors and editorial assistants.
And, like anyone who creates content, editors must be able to plan visual stories and commission multi-dimensional content. By putting their audience first, and understanding their needs, they can plan, create and commission content beyond just words.
So next time you find yourself engaging with a great piece of content, remember to ask who the editor is, how they brought that story to life and how they put their audience first.
Lucy Siebert, head of editorial, Melbourne