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Beyond The Style Guide: Helping other writers internalize your voice

Beth Dunn
April 25, 2019

Beyond The Style Guide: Helping other writers internalize your voice

Content people spend countless hours making their style guides perfect, only to discover that most people at the company, frankly, barely know that it’s there. But style guides should govern all your company’s content, everywhere: product content, sales emails, customer service chats, social media posts, and more. So how can you infuse your whole company—not just your writers—with your brand style and voice so that everyone, everywhere knows it by heart?

Come learn how even just one person can persuade and train your company to speak and write in one clear, compelling voice. In this session, you’ll learn:

How to design and deliver workshops, documentation, and other educational tools that teach others the value of writing and how to write and edit their own work
Lessons from launching and publishing an internal newsletter that secretly, stealthily teaches your voice
How to create and roll out a custom editorbot

Beth Dunn

April 25, 2019

Other Decks in Design


  1. Beyond the Style Guide Helping other writers internalize your voice

    Beth Dunn | HubSpot
  2. Beth Dunn HubSpot Product Editor-in-Chief bdunn@hubspot.com @bethdunn

  3. I’ve been a line cook... and a proofreader.

  4. I’d like to retire from both of those jobs.

  5. Why am I still a line cook... and a proofreader??

  6. What about content design?

  7. Content Design Based on discovery Focused on user needs Collaboratively

    built Consistent with house style Aligned with brand voice Appropriate tone Content Review DESIGN & REFINE CHECK IT & CORRECT IT
  8. We need content champions.

  9. Beyond the Style Guide Documentation, Education, Automation

  10. Documentation Show them what great content looks like.

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  12. Nobody cares about your style guide.

  13. Show, don’t tell: Don’t document your style guide Demonstrate your

    style, voice, and tone Make it a lesson people love to learn
  14. Trojan horse

  15. Newsletters make great Trojan horses

  16. Posters Podcasts Postcards Stickers Screensavers Phone wallpapers Semaphore Fake tattoos

    It doesn’t have to be a newsletter.
  17. “Email newsletters deserve a big group hug.” - Ann Handley

    Chief Content Officer Marketing Profs
  18. Email Newsletters (They’re awesome)

  19. Email Newsletters (They’re awesome) Conveys your human voice Creates a

    personal connection Builds trust Gives the reader control See Ann Handley: Your Email Newsletter is No Longer Important, It’s Vital
  20. Our voice guidelines... Human Personal Trustworthy User-centered

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  27. How it works It uses repetition It’s easy and fast

    It generates demand Which is this newsletter’s one job. Because who’s got the time? Because learning
  28. Wait. How can I create content like that?

  29. Education Teach them how to create great content themselves.

  30. Hey, can you take a look at this for me?

    I’ve got an even better idea.
  31. Run a Content Workshop

  32. Slide decks Recorded videos Online courses Self-guided tours Scavenger hunts

    Fake tattoos It doesn’t have to be a workshop.
  33. Content Workshop Agenda • Introduction: The Business Value of Great

    Content • The basics: Our style, voice and tone • Put it into practice: Group editing exercise How better content drives the metrics that matter (to them) How to identify and fix the most common mistakes (for them) Everyone edits the same doc and shares their work
  34. Gather their Content • What types of content do they

    need the most from? • What metrics matter the most to this team? • Which content drives those metrics the most?
  35. Find the Patterns • Style: Grammar, usage, punctuation • Voice:

    Brand personality and role • Tone: Context-driven behavior Comma splices, exclamation marks, capitalization, jargon User-centered language, maturity level, expectations of role Humor, informality, enthusiasm, respect
  36. Title of Slide Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of

    the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. Header Goes Here Build a Deck • Cover their core rules • Use their examples • Show “do” and “don’t”
  37. Put it into Practice • Start with content the team

    gave you • Make it break every rule • Make it really bad • Hand out copies and pencils
  38. “The second most powerful human urge is editing other people’s

    work.” - Anonymous
  39. My team knows how to make content like that!

  40. “I’m going to go fix all of my emails right

    now.” - Workshop participant
  41. “I’m going to go fix all of my blog posts

    right now.” - Workshop participant
  42. “I’m going to go fix all of my call scripts

    right now.” - Workshop participant
  43. Automation Help them learn to correct their own work.

  44. Automate your Style Guide • Routine grammar, spelling, punctuation mistakes

    • Common brand terms • Voice & tone nudges
  45. Word macros Excel formulae Chatbots Tweetbots Fortune cookies Fake tattoos

    It doesn’t have to be a bot.
  46. Hi, I’m BethBot. Hi, I’m RoryBot. Hi, I’m Alex.

  47. What is BethBot? • Sets of simple if-then rules •

    Checks for style, voice and tone • One source of truth • Many applications
  48. One source, many integrations One set of rules for checking

    content in: ❏ Slack ❏ Chrome ❏ Sketch ❏ Github
  49. BethBot Checks for: • Inclusive language • Reading level •

    Profanities • Weasels, hedges, fillers • Passive voice • Acronyms • Overuse • Cliches • Commonly misused phrases
  50. BethBot Checks for: • Inclusive language • Reading level •

    Profanities • Weasels, hedges, fillers • Passive voice • Acronyms • Overuse • Cliches • Commonly misused phrases ...and HubSpot style, voice & tone
  51. If you can write a style guide you can create

    an editor bot* *some engineering required
  52. BethBot in Action

  53. BethBot in Slack

  54. BethBot in Slack

  55. BethBot in Slack

  56. BethBot in Slack

  57. BethBot in Chrome

  58. BethBot in Chrome

  59. BethBot in Chrome

  60. BethBot in Chrome

  61. BethBot in Sketch

  62. BethBot in Sketch

  63. BethBot in GitHub

  64. BethBot in GitHub

  65. BethBot in GitHub

  66. BethBot in GitHub

  67. BethBot Everywhere You get the idea.

  68. Now anyone can make content like that.

  69. Now let’s do some content design.

  70. Thank you