The CPA Firm 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 particular 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?). Every writer needs an assist to help their content stand out. For firms looking to build thought leadership, the editor’s role is a precious one.

Content usually follows a path – from writer to editor, to a proofreader, and sometimes, to a 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 the raw article to finished product, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Editor’s Checklist:

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.

  • Tone matters; so much so that IBM created the Watson Tone Analyzer to help humans assess and refine tone in written communication. When it comes to CPA writing, content can be a little tone-deaf. Be sure the content you review is consistent with your firm’s brand and mission statement. Keep the audience in mind – why does this topic matter to your clients?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Keep your SEO strategy top of mind. Build the content around your keyword(s) and include internal and external links.
  • 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.
Technical Review

Once a piece has been through the editing process, it should go through a technical review. In an accounting firm, this is usually the subject matter expert who wrote the article. In larger firms, the technical reviewer may be the head of the industry group or service line. Using their specialized knowledge, this person will make sure the content is accurate and supports the firm’s stance on an issue. The technical reviewer does not necessarily perform editing or proofreading.

Proofreader’s 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. Human review is necessary to make nuanced decisions, like whether or not to use the word “technical” 3 times in 1 paragraph. Firms can outsource experienced proofreaders or stay in-house. Ask the person who reviews your financial statements or your administrative team – it may surprise you who raises their hand.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to refining content, one person may wear multiple hats, depending on the size of your firm and the 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. Don’t be afraid to look beyond your walls to get the right talent on your team. If this article raises some questions on the way you handle content in your firm, drop us a line at marketing@inovautus.com. We’d love to hear from you!

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