One of the tea break discussions at the Congility conference I spoke at last month was over the need to improve the awareness of technical communicators and technical communication as a profession.
I suggested the profession would benefit from having (and promoting) a simple positioning statement that explains the profession as if it were a brand. This is something I believe Tekom, the German professional body, did in the early 2000s. Tekom carried out some research in Germany that suggested as many, if not more, people were carrying out a technical communication role as part of another job, and that they were not aware the profession of technical communicator existed. So they aimed some of their marketing efforts at these groups, to make them aware of the profession. They wanted to see if they could bring these people into the Tekom membership.
In fact, I think there should be two statements to improve awareness of the profession:
- One saying there are these people called technical communicators who could help your business.
- One aimed at people who are writing technical documentation, but don’t realise it is a profession, with a professional body, standards etc. that could help them do it better.
Looking at the STC and ISTC sites, there are some useful simple descriptions of the profession. I’ve used content from these two sites to come up with the following description for the first statement:
“Technical Communicators are professionals who take technical and complex information and make it clear to people who need to understand and use it.
They have skills in providing the right information to the right people, at the right time. They communicate by using technology such as Web pages, Help files or printed content.
Having clear instructions can make all the difference to users of products or staff carrying out tasks. That’s because the need for accurate and accessible content has never been greater.”
We hope to progress this idea a little bit further, and produce something that the ISTC, the professional body for UK technical communicators, and ourselves could use.
Do you think the description we’ve used could be improved? If so, please use the comment box below.