5 Ways the Communications Editor Role has Changed
We’ve been touting the importance of the brand storyteller in your company’s newsroom for a while now. But we would be remiss in failing to mention the vital role of the communications editor. In the not-so-far-away past, the communications editor would proof, edit and approve press releases before they were submitted to the media -- catching errors, fixing typos and checking facts.
In today’s busy brand centers, the role of the communications editor has greatly evolved. They now exist as a sort of gatekeeper between a brand’s story and the intended consumer, ensuring not only that the copy is correct and well-written, but that the narrative of the brand is being used strategically, appropriately and effectively. Here are some of the ways the communications editor role has changed in recent years.
1. Beyond the Grammar Police
We all enjoy occasionally correcting a stranger’s spelling on Facebook. But for editors, mastery of their language is the key to success. The best editors are whizzes when it comes to knowing AP Style, understanding proper citations, and making spelling bee champs envious of their dictionary-like knowledge. Spelling and grammar will always be the cornerstone of a communications editor’s work, but that foundation also gives them the opportunity to build something even greater: an amazing story.
As narrative becomes ever more important to a brand’s success, editors have to be experts not only in language, but in storytelling. Rather than checking a press release for errors, they must also check to make sure it is written in the proper tone and voice, and conveys the kind of message they want the audience to hear.
2. Know the Audience
When you’re editing a traditional press release, it’s easy to figure out the who’s going to be reading it. Media outlets, journalists and editors will all be on the receiving end of your releases, determining if they’re interested in covering the news. Beyond that, how they tell the story is up to them. Thankfully, this tired old model has finally shifted. Because, shouldn’t you be telling your brand’s story the way it ought to be told? The key to telling it correctly is understanding your audience.
Communications editors are helping to craft brand assets that are more effective and more engaging because they are creating them based on the backgrounds, desires and interests of the audience. For instance, let’s say your brand storyteller puts together a digital release written in a youthful voice, containing images pre-sized for social media platforms. Who’s going to respond more favorably: the Instagram influencer or the newspaper editor? As communications editor, it’s your job to understand who’s receiving, so you can make sure you’re giving what they need.
3. Fake News? What Fake News?
We are living in a tumultuous time for our national and even global media. With cries of “fake news” and allegations of bias, spin and unethical reporting on the rise, the communications editor must now step into the role of fact-checker extraordinaire. And while no communications editor worth his or her salt would knowingly disperse incorrect information, utilizing reputable sources and citing verifiable facts is more important than ever. Beyond telling your brand’s story, you must also consider your brand’s reputation—ensuring accuracy and avoiding mistakes goes a long way toward keeping it protected.
4. Get Socially Savvy
Now more than ever, nearly all brands rely on social media to share their stories. Communications editors today must have an understanding for each of the popular platforms—knowing who their users are, when they’re online, and what they’re posting. Editing content for Instagram is going to look, sound and feel a lot different than content for LinkedIn (even within the same brand).
5. Bolster the Brand
Ultimately, the communications editor will contribute to reinforce the brand’s credibility and authenticity among its audience. In order to do this, the editor must wear many hats. Storyteller, proofreader, marketing analyst, social guru, and wordsmith, just to name a few. They may be responsible for everything from creating strategy to generating content to writing brand guidelines. No matter what the task, their singular goal is to distribute content that supports the brand’s mission and upholds its values through the story it tells.
The times are certainly changing inside the brand newsroom, especially for the communications editor. Once seen as word nerds with red pens gleefully marking up press releases, these multipurpose, multitasking wizards are now integral and meaningful voices adding to the chorus of your brand’s story.