Today’s post on technical writers in PR is by guest blogger Abigael Donahue – enjoy!
Move over, engineers. Make room for writers in tech – and tech PR.
The technical industry isn’t for left-brain thinkers alone. While STEM professionals certainly bring important skills to the table, writers can excel in the technical field as well. As a technical writer at HubSpot with a writing background and an English degree, I’m no stranger to the age-old belief that creatives have no place in STEM. Sure, the tech world needs the software builders. But they also need people to bring that software to life with a dose of creativity and human understanding. Here come the technical writers.
There are three skills technical writers excel at, each of which link closely to a benefit that tech firms can expect by working with a solid stable of technical writers: research, articulation, and creativity.
Research = Accuracy
Technical writers must research and analyze their ideas before putting them on paper. This approach to thinking, processing, and looking beyond what’s on the surface translates to accurate technical writing. Tech companies need to have their product’s functionality documented correctly or else they run the risk of customers misusing or even breaking the product they rely on. Technical writers deliver on-point information so customers can use a technical product effectively and have somewhere to turn to should they get stuck.
Articulation = Deflection
Technical writers use the written word to bridge gaps in understanding before customers even file a support ticket. No matter how well-designed a product is, users get stuck and need help. Thanks to technical writers’ ability to communicate technical functionality clearly and accurately, users can autonomously navigate a new product without having to reach out for assistance from support. Not only do customers save time, but tech companies save money; when a case is deflected from support and the customer handles it on their own with documentation, companies don’t need to pour extra resources into hiring and training a large group of support representatives.
Creativity = Accessibility
If a customer can’t relate to a product, then they’ll move on to something more intuitive and user-friendly. As a result, a tech firm’s customer base crumbles and so does the company. Technical writers weave in a human voice to a technical product that might seem scary and confusing to customers. They make it accessible to everyone, not just the techies. The more customers who feel comfortable using a product, the more customer retention and revenue a tech firm can earn.
And customers want to self-serve with the resources such as knowledge base articles and FAQs those technical writers provide. In Zendesk’s 2017 Multi-Channel Customer Care Report, of the 3,000 consumers surveyed, 88% cite looking at a company’s FAQs as their go-to plan for seeking support, whereas 85% turn to Google to research an answer themselves.
Luckily, tech companies are catching on to the power of writers. Not only am I a technical writer in a sea of English majors working at HubSpot, but there are plenty of other tech companies falling in love with writers. Last year, The New York Times reported virtual reality companies such as Oculus are embracing the creative worlds of science fiction, while Magic Leap, a virtual reality startup, welcomed three science fiction and fantasy writers to its team.
Diversity of thought in the tech industry drives collaboration and sparks new ideas. Writers bring their research skills, clear communication, and out-of-the-box ideas to the table when it comes time to take the products engineers build and share them with the world. Both engineers and technical writers are creators, just in different ways that both add value to the tech companies they serve.