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Posts with the Tag: marcom

What Courses are Needed for Technical Writers?

22nd March 2014 Posted in Blog, Career Development, Technical Writers 0 Comments


Entry-level technical writers and those who are considering technical communications as a career often ask if it’s necessary to get a technical writing certification or if certain courses are best to improve their skill set and hireability.

Ask five people and you’ll likely get five different answers. Recently, I’d Rather Be Writing posed this question to Laura Palmer, an assistant professor at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. Her response, although somewhat inconclusive, is a good examination of how to prepare academically for a career in technical communications, including not only a look at course work but at textbooks, too.

Read: “The Courses Conundrum: What Do You Need to Be a Technical Communicator?” for her detailed response. If you’re already a technical communications professional, we’d like to hear about your first-hand experiences, so please leave a comment below for discussion.

Related topic: Which Skill Sets are Important for a Technical Writer?

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Transitioning from Technical to Marketing Communications


It’s not uncommon – at some point their careers – for technical writers to either want to or be asked to help with the marketing department’s communications needs. Whether it’s a permanent move or only temporary, such a change can seem a bit frightening for tech writers with little to no marketing background. But is it really that big of a leap to make the change? And can the willingness to be flexible help strengthen your career outlook?

In her article, Making the Transition from Techcom to Marcom, Christy Simard looks at the desirable traits technical writers have that can be put to good use in marketing, at the similarities between the two career paths and at managing both a permanent changeover and accepting marketing assignments within a documentation group to enhance its value.

Read: Making the Transition from Techcom to Marcom and then leave a comment below with your thoughts on transitioning from techcom to marcom, especially if you’ve had first-hand experience in doing so.

Related topic: Making the Transition from Technical Writer to Manager

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How Tech Writers Can Transition to Marketing Communications

Technical communicators may face changes within their companies that will either require them to start creating marketing materials or face changes in the job market that make transitioning to marketing communications seem to make financial sense. Some technical writers may even want to make the transition voluntarily in order to explore other types of writing in their career. Being able to pitch in and do double duty in both the engineering and marketing groups can also increase a writer’s value to the company, perhaps providing a little extra job security.

But hitting the F5 key to refresh your career and changing your mind set to develop materials that persuade after many years of developing materials that instruct can seem a bit daunting. This article by Christy Simard takes a look at how technical writers can successfully transition to the marketing side of the house by looking at the similarities and differences between technical communications and marketing communications.

Read: Making the Transition from Techcom to Marcom

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Specialized Technical Writers or Those Who Can Do It All?

19th August 2010 Posted in Blog, Hiring, Marketing Writers, Technical Writers 0 Comments
Image for Technical Writers Specialists or Generalists

A common argument among companies and HR departments is whether the technical writers they hire should be well versed in many projects or just in a particular set of projects. And there are good arguments for both sides of this discussion.

Why Specialization Helps with Technical Writers

Technical writers are already specialists of sorts, helping to create technical documentation for any number of departments. They are able to create manuals, handbooks and other forms of documentation, such as online help, that instruct readers how to perform certain tasks.

This work is detailed, specific and needs to be well organized. The technical writer needs to be able to organize not only the material, but also the way the material is presented in order to be utilized to its full intent. Choosing technical writers who specialize in certain departments (e.g. IT) can be helpful as there is already a base of knowledge from which to write. They may already understand how certain information needs to be presented and how it will likely be used.

The More Skills the Merrier Argument

On the other side of the coin, technical writers who specialize in only one field or functional department might be limiting their ability to help a company that has more diverse needs and lacks the budget to engage multiple writers. For example, if the IT department and the marketing department need materials, technical writers who only have backgrounds in IT might have a harder time transferring those skills to another department like marketing. Certainly, marketing writers have different skill sets from technical writers, especially those technical writers who do not have a broad background of writing experience. Technical writers who have a varied writing background and the ability to shift tone and fully appreciate the needs of diverse audiences can serve multiple purposes in an organization, and thereby offer greater potential value to the organization. 

Specialized or not, technical writers are a valuable part of a company. By understanding if you need a versatile writer or specialized writer, you’ll be able to choose the best writer for your company’s specific needs, and you will never be “at a loss for words”, so to speak.

What are your thoughts on specialists vs. generalists when it comes to technical writers? Please leave a comment.

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Making the Transition From Techcom to Marcom

by Christy Simard

At first glance, technical communication (techcom) and technical marketing communication (marcom) appear to be very different genres. Where traditional techcom strives to help people use products, marcom seeks to make people realize they need products. Techcom instructs, while marcom persuades, and this distinction affects everything from the genre’s focus, to its content, and medium.

On the other hand, when executed well, these two genres share important similarities. They both deal with technical, complex subject matter. They both pay close attention to their target audiences, and they both benefit from a concise, accessible writing style.

Given these similarities, it makes sense that many organizations get technical communicators involved in marketing work. But what are you getting into when the marketing department looks to your techcom team for help? And what do you do when a writer on your team expresses an interest in marcom?

In reality, it can be tricky to distinguish the opportunities from the risks. This article examines two challenging situations for techcom managers, pointing to the risks you are likely to face and the opportunities you might realize.


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