Get Out of the Hi-Tech Box


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Slides presented as a member of the panel discussing Future Trends in Technical Writing. That the word "technical" can often limit us. Our skills are applicable to many industries, as my experience at Rambam Health Care Campus demonstrates. If you download the presentation, you can view my notes pages and get to the meat of the presentation. Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

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  • Intro: A Writer/ Editor/Editorial Assistant, Debbie is also a prize-winning writer with 20+ years experienceHer unique perspective relates to technical writing’s impact on low-tech. Her take? Every element of good Tech Com is relevant to every writing genre.From Debbie: Many of you know me. The more I have learned about Technical Communication, the more I realize that the word “technical” can traps us in a box. I have worked as a secretary, an editor, and a writer in positions ranging from Academia to Hi-Tech and just about everything in-between including marketing. I’ve learned that the principles of GOOD technical communication apply to EVERY aspect of communication.
  • Even for a technical communicator in Israel, a job advert and your qualifications, experience, and connections may not get you the job you wantI became especially aware of this while living in the US and later on when I returned to IsraelCompanies are finding more creative ways to get rid of direct employees whose salaries and benefits impact the bottom line by reducing the number of direct hiresAge discrimination may be illegal, but it finds its way into considerationsEmployers want everything at a minimal cost – We all know it and talk about it and we’re tired of hearing it and yet there is good news
  • As most of you know, I am now working at Rambam Health Care Campus – the largest an academic research hospital in the north, and THE referral hospital for the north.I was recruited by the director of the hospital. He had been trying to get me to work for him ever since I left the Technion to officialy enter the world of Technical Communication. I was freshly widowed and wanted a permanent full-time job – not a temporary position.As you look at this slide, do you see what happened? <CLICK>I discovered that every single aspect of Technical Communication applied to everything I was doing. You may be able to break a few rules in Marketing Communications, but if you don’t know your audience and if the content is incorrect… the desired results will not be achieved.<CLICK> For online Journal production, the ability to understand technical processes is as important as the ability to edit and rewrite a medical paper. I am often often redoing graphics, tables, and even consulting with authors on ways to improve how they communicate their information!
  • I also found myself being asked to help with content on the Internet, LinkedIn advertising, Facebook, Wikipedia, and YouTube. We are even working on an iPad app for our journal!The current site is being redesigned. The decision was made that ALL English content MUST be reviewed and/or rewritten, or generated by me! I also was asked to write the script for the hospital’s new identify movie which is now on our website and YouTube page.And I’ve been given a lot of other tasks related to social media/networking.How could I have dared tackled this items without the things I’ve learned through my profession? In social media, less IS more, and as all of us know– it’s easy to write if you have an unlimited word count; when you are limited to 150 or 25 or 10 words, that is a different story!
  • At home, I even find time to work “hi-tech” so to speak, meaning I have to keep my technical skills up to date
  • As an in-house TC verses a contractor, I am able to accumulate knowledge and implement it consistently through a variety of deliverables (social media, brochures, letters, proposals, etc.).Contractors find it much harder to get into the heart of an organization, and are rarely involved in as broad a scope of work as an in-house person is. Once a salarly is set for an in-house person, all work is fair game. But when money is tight, the goal is to give the contractor less work and responsibility, not more.A specialized contractor (for example, focussing only on social media) might miss the content disseminated in an annual report or a proposal. The end result can be conflicting or inconsistent dissemination of information. The specialist never know about resources for finding consistent information if they are not allowed access to the company’s network (a frequent occurrence).And we’ve all heard that marketing is different type of writing. I have learned that is not quite true. I’m writing for a different audience. And I’ve been able to directly impact the accuracy of what is marketed in English, assuring that we are not talking about exagerated truths. For example:Knowing the target audience. What if you have a very broad target audience? Can a writing or marketing contractor understand the nuances?In a recent marketing project, an advertising company was sought out because of their professional experience in fund raising campaigns. My background in medicine and and my understanding of the nuances of some of the words used in the campaign enabled me to point out major problems. Once detected, our marketing group was quick to act. I had to work with a team to rewrite everything the contracted company wrote. Across the board, the agency misunderstood ALL the information we gave them. And they were a big name company and we still had to pay them! But as Technical Communicators, we also know the tools of our trade. We know how important a template is, and what styles are, and WHY they are important. We understand that good document design is just as important as good writing. We know the difference between a manual and a tweet, and we know the constraints these deliverables place on our writing.And we know how to be the jack of all trades: We can extrapolate our knowledge to other “deliverables” that communicate, because in every case, the same principles apply whether it’s a proposal, Help, a letter, a tweet, a status, a manual, or a YouTube movie: Know your audience Know your deliverable and its constraints Know what you want to communicate Communicate it
  • The jobs are there and the market needs us. The future of technical writing includes learning to repackage our skills in a variety of ways. As we get past titles and terminology, we can find the work perfectly suited to our skill set, and I believe that low-tech is going to increasingly need our skills as marketing and social media continue to impact our lives, making the world a much smaller place, where good communication is more important than ever.
  • Get Out of the Hi-Tech Box

    1. 1. Or, what is a technical communicator doing in a hospital?Deborah (Shapiro) HemstreetEditor/Writer for Rambam Health Care
    2. 2.  Job Openings  Work Qualifications  Work Experience  Work Connections  Work Availability  Work 2
    3. 3.  Job Description: English Editor Job Tasks:  Donor relations communications*  Marketing communications*  Online journal production and publication§ § Understand technical and highly technical*Convert extremely longprocesses, edit and information and into content for potential rewrite text, recreate graphics/tables collaborators, donors, and investors according to industry standards 3
    4. 4.  Internet Facebook LinkedIn Wikipedia YouTube Apps and more 4
    5. 5.  Subcontracting  Standard and mobile Help  DTP  Editing  Consulting 5
    6. 6.  Know your audience Know your deliverable and its constraints Know what you want to communicate Communicate it 6
    7. 7.  We are flexible We focus on every aspect of communication We understand the importance of illustrations (movies, photos, words, and more) We remain out of the box 7