Content without a face: anonymity, egos, and corporate content
The novels of Italian author Elena Ferrante are getting a lot of attention, but “Elena Ferrante” doesn’t actually exist. The writer behind the pen name prefers anonymity and shies away from publicity. Creators of corporate content should take a few pointers from the author when seeking recognition for their work.
Regardless of the kind of information a content creator develops for a company—marketing, technical, training, and so on—the final information product must support the company’s business goals (which usually revolve around making money, saving money, or both).
Note those business goals don’t include “show the world that content creator John Smith is a brilliant writer” or “enable Jane Doe to show her dazzling proficiency in using Tool X to design content.” Content creators who approach corporate content as a way to get personal recognition are not doing themselves (or their employers) any favors.
There’s nothing wrong with satisfaction from a job well done or expecting to be properly compensated for one’s work. However, the primary purpose of the content produced at work is to support the company and its goals (and, by extension, the company’s success in the marketplace). Corporate content and the processes surrounding it are not about the content creators themselves—unless those authors are the subject of a piece in the company newsletter, and then the content is all about them.
It can be difficult for content creators (and all employees, really) to keep their eyes on the corporate goals while doing their day-to-day work and meeting deadlines. It can be even harder for their managers to offer gentle reminders of those goals when authors get too wrapped up in their daily grind.
So, what are corporate content creators to do? First, check that ego at the office door. Easier said than done, I know. My first draft of this blog post was ripped to shreds. I managed to survive.
To show the world writing or design prowess and to gain personal recognition for it, content creators are better off developing projects on their own time. When authors find other channels for their creative skills, they get to set the goals because those outlets are theirs. Pen names and shying away from publicity are completely optional!
P.S. Don’t equate anonymity in corporate content development with “bland and voiceless.” For example, the marketing group can’t afford to crank out dull, cookie-cutter content. Differentiating the company from its competitors with a distinct voice is key. Otherwise, the marketing content sabotages a primary business goal: making money.
P.P.S. Here’s where my mind went to get the headline for this blog post:
I agree with the conclusion, especially when the contributors’ names are not associated with the content.
“My first draft of this blog post was ripped to shreds.” indicates that the post itself might be in a grayer area. Though hosted by Scriptorium and presumably reflecting, at least partially, corporate position/belief, the author is identified. Some of the content may be his opinion rather than that of Scriptorium.
Yes, Walter, my post falls more into the marketing content I mentioned in my postscript. We do want our blog contributors to use their own voices.
Even so, my first draft’s logic went off the rails in one spot, and Sarah dispatched said content quickly.