The CPAs Guide to Refining Content

If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ve probably read a lot about how to develop content in your accounting firm. We’ve written over a dozen pieces on how to initiate and support content marketing, but we haven’t yet specifically addressed a certain thorn in the side of every accounting marketer. It has 7 letters, but to some, it may as well be a four-letter word. I’m talking about editing – which isn’t the same thing as proofing or copyediting (are you still with me?). Personally, I love editing – I would rather be on the improvement side of the coin than the organic. But for others, writing (developing content) is their happy place; and every writer needs a great editor to make their work both relevant and inviting.

Content usually follows a path – from writer, to editor, to proofreader, and sometimes, to copyeditor. Most accounting firms do not have three editors on staff to comb through every blog post, newsletter, press release or white paper. Sometimes, one person needs to wear two hats to get the job done. As content goes from raw article to finished product, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Editors Improve Content:

Editors should refine content without changing the spirit of the writer’s message. In an accounting firm, the editor is often a marketing professional, administrator or even a proposal writer.

Editor’s Checklist:

  • Oftentimes, we are criticized for our tone. But, as a matter of scientific fact, tone does count – so much so that IBM has created a tool to help humans assess and refine tone in written communication through the Watson Tone Analyzer. Be sure the tone of the text under review is consistent with your firm’s brand and mission statement.
  • If the article on your desk is difficult for you to follow as a non-CPA, the intended reader doesn’t stand a chance. Review for clarity by making sure there isn’t too much language litter to distract from the main point.
  • Transition & Flow. To ensure the intended reader can seamlessly follow the ideas on the page, make sure the text uses transitional words and sentences to bridge ideas. The flow of the article depends on it!
  • Ensure the text tells the right story and captures the attention of the right audience.
  • Pick a style guide and stick with it. Here’s a refresher.
  • If your CPA firm has an SEO strategy, you will need to review the content for the appropriate keyword use and linking strategy.
  • The best way to edit (and become a better writer!) is to read the content out loud. The practice of verbalizing a written piece will challenge your mind to catch the nuances you may have missed on paper.

Once a piece has been edited, in should go through a technical review. In an accounting firm, this review is typically done by the subject matter expert that originally wrote the article. Or, in larger firms this could be done by the head of the industry group or service line, or whoever you determine is the best person to review the content technically. The reviewer uses their specialized knowledge to make sure the content is accurate and supports the firm’s stance on an issue, but doesn’t necessarily perform the rest of the editing or proofreading.

Proofreaders Polish:

After a document has been edited and reviewed by a technical editor, it needs to go through one last round of examination to ensure there are no grammatical errors. You can use Spellcheck or Grammarly as a jumping off point, but you shouldn’t rely on computer tools alone. Firms can outsource experienced proofreaders or stay in house. If you don’t have a designated proofreader, try the person who reviews your financial statements or ask around the office – you might be surprised by who raises their hand.

When it comes to refining content, one person may wear multiple hats, depending on the size of your firm and the skill levels and natural talents of your team. The bottom line in refining content is, the more eyes, the better. Each level of content development requires confidence and trust. Make sure every person on your editing team is right for the job –don’t be afraid to look beyond your walls to get the right talent onboard. If this article raises some questions on the way you handle content in your firm, drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you!

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