Everybody in the house make some noise

The two Bobs from the movie "Office Space," saying "What would you say you do here?"

For the stereotypically introverted editor, marketing and promotion can feel unnatural and effortful. This discomfort has obvious consequences for a freelancer who’s always on the lookout for the next contract, but it can also hurt in-house editors: when editorial departments aren’t vocal about their function within the larger organization, their work may be ignored or undervalued.

In a Twitter discussion about how freelancers should ask for credit lines to show their worth and advance the profession, @Mededitor wrote:

How do you raise the profile of your editorial or production department within your own organization? Depending on its size, you can try some or all of these strategies:

  1. Offer training

Giving training sessions—on writing skills, say, or editorial workflow—kills two birds with one stone: it shows you know what you’re talking about and may help the people you have to edit avoid practices that can slow you down, like adding inappropriate formatting to a document.

If you’re proactive about offering this training, you’ll be less likely to come off exasperated or self-serving. Make it clear that the sessions are meant to improve workflow and make the editorial process better for everyone.

If your organization is large enough, you might be able to offer training sessions regularly—say, once a season, or whatever works best with your production schedules—for new hires. Open these up to any staff member who’d like a refresher.

  1. Host regular informal meetings to talk shop

When I worked in house, I organized monthly brown-bag lunches for members of the editorial and production departments but invited anyone else in the company who was interested in joining us. We’d have a topic for each lunch but an otherwise loose agenda. We talked about style issues, new editing-related books, word-processing tricks, something we’d learned at a professional development event, particularly challenging editorial or production problems, and other publishing matters.

These lunches were great for team building—not to mention terrific opportunities to audit and edit house style—and although they were primarily for editorial and production professionals, people from other departments could sit in, see that we were serious about our work, and better understand what we did. (It helped that we had a common lunch area.)

  1. Pursue professional development, and ask your employer to pay for it

Going to professional development events shows that (a) you’re a professional and (b) you’re dedicated to getting better at what you do. If your organization doesn’t already have a fund for professional development, ask about getting one started. People tend to value what they pay for, and that goes for employers, too.

  1. Report back about what you learned

Show your bosses that their investment was worth it, and stretch their dollars by sharing your new knowledge with your colleagues.

  1. Nominate team members for awards

There are awards for writing, editing, and design—both generally and in specific disciplines. Look around to see what’s out there in your field. If members of your team produce excellent work, nominate them for these awards. Show them and your bosses that their work is valued by the industry at large.

  1. Celebrate accomplishments

Awards, happy authors or clients, completed projects—even (or especially?) good editorial catches—are all worth celebrating. Consider hosting an annual open house (with food and drink, naturally) so that people from other departments can see how you work and what you’ve accomplished over the past year. A bonus is that, in planning for this event, you’ll begin to be more aware of the many ways you add value, and actively tracking these can boost team morale.

One client uses their open house to showcase the progress of particularly important projects from start to finish, including all of the stumbling blocks and dead ends. Laying bare the process can reveal just how much creativity and effort go into our work.

Finally, credit lines are just as important for in-house editors as they are for freelancers to build their portfolios. If you can, name all of the people who contributed to the project in the project itself.


What have you done that’s worked to raise awareness of your role to the higher-ups at your organization? Let me know in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Everybody in the house make some noise”

  1. My organization works on billable-time (15 min) increments to clients, and clients often wouldn’t request editorial input because of added cost or perceived lack of need. So we instituted an “editor on call” service for short pieces (e.g., broadcast emails and web news items), promising a rapid turnaround time and generally no more than 15 minutes of billable time. Now, most clients and in-house staff in other departments use “ed on call” for even the smallest job.

  2. I do all of these things. It’s nice to see someone else does, too!

    I also have two email lists. One for editors and communications people at work, and one for policy folks who have to write as part of their jobs. I send blog post links to them every two weeks or so. For the policy people, I send introductory info on topics like plain language, English style, and language change. The editors and comms people get more advanced things, like John McIntyre’s videos.

    The links I send are ones I find via the blogs I follow or I get them from fellow editors (mostly on Facebook).

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