Need to write something, and get it out to the people who need to read it? Here's how!

Eight Steps to Take Your Publication Full Circle

1. Develop the concept

Think of the big picture: Who is your target audience? What do you want them to do or know as a result of your publication, video, presentation, or other communication tool?

Think of the specifics: Does it have to be completed by a specific time (a conference, for example)? What do you want the finished product to look like? How elaborate, or how simple?

These are the types of questions to be answering. More importantly, if many people will have a say in these decisions, make sure they are involved from the start. After you have involved them and gotten their ideas, develop a short summary and circulate it to all concerned so that you can move on to the next step.

2. Research and interview

Bring together the information you need to make the writing and design process go smoothly. It may be a question of gathering in one place information that you already have. It may be doing library or on-line research, interviewing people within or outside your organization, or tracking down sources for photographs or other graphics.

3. Write

Write with your target audience in mind. How much background to they have in the topic? What do they need to know, and what is the best way to tell them? Consider tone, vehicle (website, brochure, etc.) Several drafts will probably be necessary. Circulate them to reviewers with a fixed deadline for when you need comments returned.

4. Edit

Plan on several levels of editing. First, edit for the big picture of ideas and organization. Are you getting the information across in a clear and accurate way? Is your piece interesting? Then, edit for the fine points of grammar and style. Remember that at a certain point, a person cannot write and edit the same piece. He or she is too close to it.

5. Design

Ideally, the designer is already involved in the creative process, thinking about how the words can combine with graphics for the most effective presentation. Keep samples of print pieces or bookmark online sites that you particularly like or dislike as a way to communicate some of your ideas to a designer.

6. Produce

Depending on the product, you will be working with a printer, videographer, web developer, or other professional. Ask a lot of questions. Set realistic deadlines that both you and they can live with. They want the finished product to look good, too, but remember that it is you who has the biggest stake in it looking perfect.

7. Distribute or post

How will your product be distributed? Most likely, you will be using a number of methods: perhaps a "launch" at a meeting or reception, an email to members or subscribers, a display at a store or office. The possibilities are endless, but all tie back to your original thoughts about your target audience and your objectives.

8. Measure results

How will you decide whether you met your objectives? You can collect anecdotal evidence, measure click-throughs and/or requests or orders,  or survey the target audience. You can judge based on whether you achieved your objective (did sales go up? was the legislation passed?), the reaction of your board or key clients, or other indicators.