Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with VeraContent’s Shaheen Samavati and Kyler Canastra, about the importance of having a strong editorial process in content marketing:

Kyler Canastra 0:00
Hi, everyone. Thanks for tuning in.

Shaheen Samavati 0:02
I’m Kyler Canasta and I’m Shaheen Samavati. We’re hosts that The Content Mix podcasts.

Kyler Canastra 0:07
Today we’re going to be talking about creating an editorial process that works, something that we have a lot of experience with very content. Shaheen and I are going to be talking about how to properly edit content for substance and style. Shaheen has a unique perspective on this topic as a former newspaper journalist who went on to work in corporate communication and marketing, and then co founded multilingual Content Agency VeraContent. So today, it’s a different episode, because we are going to be talking amongst each other, so I’m not gonna welcome she not going to welcome Shaheen, because we’re both excited to talk about this. I mean, to dive in a bit more to get in the pre interview talk. We’re just learning a lot about change experience in journalism. So I think we have a lot of interesting topics to touch base on today.

Shaheen Samavati 0:53
Definitely, definitely something I’m passionate about and something we’re passionate about at Bera is editing. So excited to go deeper on this topic.

Kyler Canastra 0:59
Yes, for sure. So to kind of tap into why this is something that you’re passionate about, why do you think it’s important to have a solid editing process? Well, where to start?

Shaheen Samavati 1:13
Yeah, I mean, I think I mean, obviously, it’s a given that editing, I mean, good editing leads to better quality work. So I mean, if you want to have content that stands out, and that is, you know, stands out above the rest, it needs to go through some kind of quality control, essentially. And I think it’s like so important right now, because we just are competing with so much content, and just a lot of it is just regurgitating regurgitated stuff and things that haven’t been well thought out. So if you actually, I mean, have a good, good process for creating the content in the first place, and then, and then have like, a standard way to make sure that it’s like, you know, always up top quality, then that’s gonna make you stand out among all the noise and crap that’s out there on the internet,

Kyler Canastra 1:58
basically, for sure. I think a lot. Yeah, nowadays, everyone has a voice. So it’s kind of easy to be able to publish. And sometimes the editing process gets thrown out the window. So I think to stand out nowadays, high quality content is so important. So I think like you said, it’s really necessary to have this kind of editorial process in line ready to go open, effective process to really get the content out there at a rate as well, because you don’t want to lose pace, because everything now it’s quite fast paced. So as I mentioned in the intro, Shaheen, you had you originally were a journalist, and worked in different newspapers. So I kind of want you to walk us through what the editorial process at a newspaper it looks like, maybe like things have changed nowadays, with technology. But in your experience, how was that process?

Shaheen Samavati 2:44
Yeah, it was a while ago, when I worked in newspapers, I would say I worked during like the golden time. I mean, it was the end of the golden time of newspapers. I was there in the like, in the around 2004 2010. years, I was working in newspapers from I did internships, and then I worked full time and then daily newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio. So yeah, so I have that experience, working in a fairly major newspaper that was publishing daily. And I learned a ton from from that. And I think a lot of those values I learned in journalism has really carried over into the work that I do now. And very content. And all the work I’ve done in like marketing and communications, has a lot of crossover. But yeah, in terms of how the editorial process, at least used to work in a newspaper, and I think should work is well, I mean, you were asking me earlier, like how many levels of editing are there typically, and I think, for print publication, it’s a little bit different than for online. And I think even like mainstream media, even newspapers are completely changing the way they look at editing, because they’re having to compete with online content. And they’re, they’re lowering their editing standards, unfortunately. But in the golden days, I mean, you basically had four levels of editing. So you have like a let you know, you have your assigning editor and line editor who’s the person who’s like, giving the reporter the work and also and then editing during the first edit on it. And they’re editing for content and style. But then, yeah, that goes on to basically a copy, edit. And then you have like, actually, what Well, I was saying there’s also like an executive editor, basically, making sure that it goes in line with like, the vision of the newspaper who was like approving topics, essentially. The one thing is like the the everything is, like relevant in the first place. Then the second is like the content, someone who’s editing for the content. The third is editing the copy. Right? And then you have someone who’s doing like a final proof on natural like, what’s going to be in print, and in the olden days, actually used to like, do that on paper, right and mark up the paper. It obviously became digital later on. But yeah, so it was a pretty, pretty lengthy process, but done in a pretty short amount of time. Because on a daily news cycle, you had to, you know, a lot of times you were writing the article in a couple of hours, and then all of the editing steps had to take place in a few hours as well if for like breaking news kind of stuff.

Kyler Canastra 5:21
So like, you would get your topic, right in the morning, that day, and you’d have to write so you were writing it. So you want and then where are you seeing your the Yeah, I was I was a writer reporter. So you had a certain amount of time to get, like a topic out on paper and then get it sent out for this whole editorial process?

Shaheen Samavati 5:38
Yeah, I mean, it depends. Like if it’s breaking news or a feature story, I mean, sometimes I’d have a month to work on like a bigger story. But other times, it’s what I would work on simultaneously, while also doing breaking news. So like, but like breaking news stuff, it could happen anytime throughout the day. And usually your deadline is like 4pm. So that it does have time to get through the editing process. And you have people who work a later shift in order to like, get the editing steps done in the evenings.

Kyler Canastra 6:05
So I think like this editorial process makes a lot of sense in print publication, because of the especially when it’s like a 24 hour turnover, because you need to make sure that you’re not missing out on mistakes and stuff like that. But you also mentioned how like this editorial, these editorial skills, and this whole, the processes that you learned during your time at newspaper kind of carried over into different parts of your professional career. Now, when it comes to like corporate publications, why do you think this kind of vigorous editing is so necessary for that? As well? I guess?

Shaheen Samavati 6:37
Well, yeah. Or I guess the question is, how necessary is it? What level of editing is really necessary? Because I mean, like I said, even even like newspapers are throwing some of this out the window. They’re like, okay, we’re competing with online publications who aren’t doing this. And we, it’s expensive, obviously, to put the resources in, that are needed to go to have all these steps of the process. But I don’t think it’s something that you have to find a balance on. Because, yeah, it’s at the expense of quality. I mean, we’re seeing now like really big publications who have like typing mistakes on their, on their websites, and it’s embarrassing for them. That didn’t used to happen. And also, but like you said, there is like less of a permanency in online. So at least you can, like fix it afterwards. It used to be in print that like a you know, if you made a mistake, then you there’s like, shame for all editors and reporters to have to publish a correction on something, right. So especially like a content correction. Like something that was factually wrong, right. So it’s like really important to get it right the first time. And that’s why so much of the credit, credibility of a publication wrote on making sure that everything was double checked, like you have people whose job it is to make sure that actually what’s being said in the article is true and accurate. And actually, fun fact, that barrack comes from this term, like true, like she wanted to get across that we do that level of rigorousness in ensuring that everything we publish is, is true and accurate.

Kyler Canastra 8:15
And interesting, too, because it feels like we were talking a lot about fact checking in recent times, right. And I feel like that’s something that’s kind of going out the window in terms of dislike with editing as well. It’s like, if you’re editing more, you’re gonna be fact checking more information. But now that things are just being published left and right, online. You don’t know how accurate your sources as well, not only in editing, in terms of like, maybe people think it’s his Grammar and Style, making sure everything’s correct. But you’re editing the content and stuff. So it’s the extra stuff is getting a bit lost now, as well.

Shaheen Samavati 8:45
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that’s right. I mean, it very, we have editors, so we asked to do substantive edits. So it’s not just, it’s not just fixing the language, it’s actually like, you know, critically looking at the content that’s been created and deciding, like, is this the best? Is this the best way to order this information? Is this is that everything that’s here relevant? Like? I mean, looking at it with a critical eye? And for sure, I mean, so I guess the question was, how important is this for like, corporate communications or for marketing communications? And like I said, there’s all I mean, there’s a lot of different variety of different types of marketing content, but I think, and, of course, you have to, like adapt your editorial process to, to exactly what you need and what you’re doing. But, I mean, some level of editorial control needs to happen to ensure that it’s, that’s meeting consistent standards, especially when you’re publishing a lot of content, you know, on an ongoing basis, which is what we do, we publish, blogs, a lot of social media content. So it’s really important for us to have those processes in place and we help our clients have those processes in place to them. Yeah, to ensure that the content is, is on brand and on message and also excellent and meeting the editorial objectives. Yeah.

Kyler Canastra 10:12
Now, I think we mentioned before how they’re in the newspaper, we are rolled, it was forced or three stages of editing, I think, the written content, then you have three checks before it was published. But I guess nowadays, I guess it depends really, on what you’re trying to do with your content, if it’s coming out really quickly, or if you have time to write something, and then edit it over time. But I guess ideally, How many stages of editing are needed in an editorial process in your opinion?

Shaheen Samavati 10:43
The sweet spot is two levels. Just having one set of eyes is not often enough. There’s also two stages of editing, one is the substantive part, so really editing for content, but it’s a different mindset that the editor is in when they’re editing for content than when they’re editing for accuracy, grammar and style. So I think that those should be the two steps that are essential. And then, of course, anything on top of that is gravy.

Kyler Canastra 11:16
When I edited for VeraContent back in the day, that was the mindset I had. It was always to do a content check first before I did anything in terms of grammar, style and tone. It was more of just reading through it, making sure that the brief was understood, and the writer was able to carry out everything that the client asked for, and then I would do the check for grammar and style. But, it’s like you said, it’s kind of a two part process. So maybe we didn’t have like two separate people. But I think the editors in our team, that’s what they do on a daily basis for sure. It’s kind of separate the two of content versus style, tone and grammar, as well.

Shaheen Samavati 11:56
Yeah, no, exactly. And we have like, it doesn’t necessarily need to be two people. It’s just two steps in the process. Exactly. Having the those like we have an editing checklist. So it’s like making sure that you do each of the things on that list and systematically going through that. Yeah. Also, we do have the role of project manager who is the one who’s like choosing the topics assigning the things to people. And that’s kind of the role of executive editor in terms of making sure the topics in the first place are kind of in line with the overall editorial.

Kyler Canastra 12:24
Exactly. So I guess the answer to the question is there’s no right or wrong number of stages in terms of editing needed, but it’s actually just making sure like we said, like have a checklist and making sure you’re checking everything, it could be one person, it could be three people, but always having that like editorial eye on style, grammar, tone, and content itself. Now,

Shaheen Samavati 12:43
I mean, making sure that you’re editing for content that you’re editing, for, for correctness and style. Like I think that having those two steps, whether it’s one person doing it or two people doing it, you have to decide based on your resources and your, in your process, what makes most sense, but it’s like those two steps have to happen, basically, if you want to ensure that your content is excellent, I mean, like,

Kyler Canastra 13:08
on your objective, a lot of

Shaheen Samavati 13:09
people who don’t do this, and maybe it’s okay for their needs. But that’s not the kind of, I’m not the kind of content that we’re typically working

Kyler Canastra 13:17
with. So you just mentioned the word resources. And I feel like a lot of times when we’re talking to different people interested in our services, or interested in the world of editing and getting advice, I think a lot of times people will say, well, it’s gonna cost me more money, because it’s gonna be more manpower involved. But in your opinion, Shane, is it worth throwing in a little bit more money in order to have like a solid editorial process? And if so, why?

Shaheen Samavati 13:44
Yeah, I mean, I guess it goes, goes back to the same point, it’s like, it depends on your objectives. Like, it depends on what the content is going to be used for, and whose eyes are going to be on it. But if, if you’re doing journalistic style content, and you want it to be the leading content on that topic, like it’s absolutely worth, you know, doing what you need to do to make sure that it’s top quality that goes with finding best writers in the first place, and then putting it through a process to make sure that like, I mean, if you if you are investing and having a great writer, write that piece, like why wouldn’t you spend a little bit more to make sure that it’s that it’s meeting your standards? Like, for sure, kind of a waste not to?

Kyler Canastra 14:28
Yeah, for sure. I always say that, too, is like maybe more worthwhile to invest in the beginning, right, and like getting the right writers getting like an editorial process in line because then it costs you more down the line. If you have mistakes, or, you know, things like you’re publishing things that aren’t true or making statements that aren’t in line with your brand. Like you might suffer those kinds of concerns later. So sometimes it’s better to invest in the beginning. Know that everything’s like set up the way you want it. And that way, it’s like, you know, issues well thought through cracks, essentially. Yeah, it’s super important. And another thing that people always ask us, and we get this question all the time is that because it’s very content, we work in a lot of different languages. And in Shaheen and I, we speak different languages, it doesn’t mean that we’re not doing editorial checks on these different languages as well. Plus, we work with a lot of different languages. So you need a lot of people on our team that can you give us the editorial feedback and week those standards that we want, but they always asked like, how do we like up uphold basically, these high editorial standards across languages that like, we don’t speak? So? I don’t know if she can, can you maybe shed some light on that? And how we’re able to like it, like establish these quality standards, not just like, you know, English and Spanish or like other languages, but across the board? Their services?

Shaheen Samavati 15:41
Yeah, I mean, I see the more like, working in a lot of languages is extremely, it adds to the challenge, like it’s challenging enough to have a great editorial process in one language, and then trying to replicate that in multiple languages, obviously, that’s why we have an entire business around it, because it’s a lot of work. So it means like, I mean, building up those teams, for every language. So we have a team of trusted editors, and obviously, writers as well, but we have, I mean, two things. One is like the system of constantly finding the right talents, for the ongoing projects that we have in all the languages. And then we have editorial standards that are to some, like the process itself is, is pretty standard across the languages. But obviously, there’s like nuances to every language has its every language and every process has had to be adapted to each language. That means creating specific guidelines and specifics style guides, not only for every language, but for every client. And yeah, so there’s, it’s about, but it’s like so important to have that really organized really well set up to, like consistently do that across the language for

Kyler Canastra 16:51
sure. Now, I think one thing we haven’t really talked about was, what’s our editorial process at fair content? So I guess I wanted to ask you, Shaheen, what is our process? And how has your experience that all the experience we’re talking about in journalism and corporate communications and marketing? How that led you to establish the system that we use?

Shaheen Samavati 17:09
Yeah. Okay, so where do we start with? With our process? Yeah, I mean, well, definitely, like the processes we use are very, very inspired by my experience as a journalist. And I mean, it’s part of like, it’s what kind of inspired me to start the business in the first place, like, because when I was working in corporate communication, and then later in marketing at a startup, and I found it really difficult to find providers, like what I was on kind of the flip side as a, someone who hired translators and hired writers and freelancers and other agencies. So I was I found it difficult to find suppliers who kind of could meet my quality standards. And I wanted to change that. Like I wanted to create, you know, an offering that that that met my standards. So yeah, it varied from the very beginning. It’s been very, I mean, we’ve always been very, very systems oriented, I would say, we’re a little

Kyler Canastra 18:08
obsessed. lately.

Shaheen Samavati 18:11
Yeah, we love documentation. We love checklists, for sure. And of course, like, tools to up up to mate, optimally, optimal, optimal collaboration. So one piece that I like, that’s one of our values of air, and I think it’s like so important in the whole thing is this, like cultural collaboration, because I feel like that was something that when I worked in newspapers, it like not only is it very systematized and very like, organized the way that editing process work, but there’s also, like, a lot of, I mean, it’s obviously creative, like the, the, you know, the entire process. So there’s a lot of editorial meetings, talking about ideas, talking and talking to people. It’s a very like social job in a way. But like, when you go to Marketing, your communication, I feel like you’re just kind of like sitting in your cubicle and like, tapping away, and it wasn’t a didn’t have that so much. Especially like, because when you work with suppliers, that they’re just kind of like, there’s just this gap between, between you and them. And they, you know, they’re just turning something in and a lot of things can get lost in translation. So a big part of it is, like, what we’ve kind of tried to change Vera is, is the the way we collaborate. So like the way we collaborate internally, the editorial process, it’s not just that the fact that we have these steps, but that, that there’s constant feedback. So there’s opportunities to always, you know, get feedback from your editor, talk about ideas, why are you writing it that way? Well, how could you do it better? Like that’s actually what leads to excellent results, like it’s just that we’re checking it and checking the checking for style or checking, you know, it’s really that feedback in the back and forth. And that’s been the key for us is creating thing to do this at scale, of course, a challenge, like when we’re very small company, it was very collaborative, we all talked about every single project. But as we’ve like grown into more languages and more quantity of content, it’s been we’ve had to create structures to help people have opportunities to collaborate. So And so basically, it’s like, yeah, I mean, first of all, it’s setting up. Like a, you know, we have our feedback system. So every course someone doesn’t edit, they have to give feedback on how well the person did answer certain questions. The writer himself has to say why they made certain decisions were in the writing process. So like, yeah, we’ve put those those pieces in place for feedback, that’s one of the most important, so

Kyler Canastra 20:44
important, and I was gonna say to like, across languages, like we do that feedback, I think it’s always given an English. Mostly, that’s our working language. So even like, you know, one of the project manager who is like the executive editor role in this relationship, they can still, you know, if they don’t speak German, for example, they can still see like, what’s going on with the content, what issues were there. And I think that kind of leads us this whole, like, allows collaboration to go really well, but also allows us to build trust with everybody that we’re working with. So from like, the editor, to the writer to the project manager, like everyone’s, like, kind of building trust, because we’re all communicating and collaborating, helping each other out and able to, like, keep on top of the content. So I think over time, it really builds like a nice system like that, we’re able to like build this machine with different parts, I’ll work well together, because we trust each other, and we are able to collaborate, even if we don’t speak the language or 100%, like the project manager may not be 100% expert on this topic, but they’re still involved with everything and able to, like, you know, communicate feedback and build that trust. But I think it’s so essential. Well, I

Shaheen Samavati 21:45
think that’s been like the key in being able to ensure quality without speaking. I mean, our project managers don’t speak every language of every project they are working on, they have the writers and the editors who are the experts in that, but they need to oversee, they need to, they’re responsible for making sure that what we submit to the client is, is the best it can be. And so the way they’re able to do that is by is through feedback, like, by I mean by talking about it with, with the writers and the editors, like that’s how and like, okay, maybe you don’t understand what what the end result is. But you understand the reasoning, like everyone has to explain why they’re making certain editorial decision, then it gives you confidence that, that that’s like, obviously the other side of that is that the more relationships we build with people, the more we get to know them and trust them, like you’re saying that ensures that results are great, too.

Kyler Canastra 22:44
Exactly. And just like get back to like the initial part of the question Vera, what we do is we have like the The linguist, so like this is goes like across the board for translation, or even for writing, everything that we do is always like the initial linguists, the writer translator, and then there’s always like, revised or someone that’s going to be editing the text before. And they’re the ones getting the feedback that everyone gets to see. And they’re the ones ensuring the quality that then you send out. So it’s kind of like the based off of like what we’re talking about in the beginning of that like four step process that she had, in her time. As a journalist, we kind of like made it more concise, while maintaining like those editing, you know, the checklist and making sure we’re editing everything, you know, that also happened in that four step process to kind of make it more concise. And that’s kind of how I guess our system works in terms of editing and feedback, and their software style guides and tone guides that we use all the time to ensure quality has been in every language in every economy. So it’s definitely a well greased system that we’ve been using for a long time. And it a lot of fun, I think for collaboration, it really allows everyone to get to know each other. And especially when we’re working with a lot of writers as well. That’s really cool. Now, and our

Shaheen Samavati 23:55
clients don’t really like see that site or because they have one point of contact, which is the project manager, the project manager is the one who’s managing the team of the linguist and they’re the editors,

Kyler Canastra 24:07
they play an essential role in everything. Now,

Shaheen Samavati 24:10
the project managers obviously are involved in the interview process as well, because they’re the ones overseeing over overall editorial strategy for each. And they’re given the feedback, any given any given assignment,

Kyler Canastra 24:21
as well. And they’re the ones that have to like communicate to my and the writers to if there’s any feedback like that. So they’re very much involved, which is really cool. I think that project managers and I worked in that role as well is very fascinating in that sense, because you get to work a lot different projects, but you’re also very involved and able to like give your editorial advice and stuff like that. So there’s really a lot of but a really rewarding experience as well. Now to wrap up the conversation, I feel like we could keep talking about this for a long time, which has been really interesting to learn a bit more about kind of how your experience has led to what very content and what we are today. But I think just sort of, a lot of times I think it’s come up a lot In this conversation and other conversations that we’ve had outside of this episode, but many companies are struggling when it comes to like, you know, creating a strong editorial process. And I want to know, Shaheen, like why do you think that is? Why do you think so many companies struggle with nowadays, establishing a process that provides like strong and high quality content?

Shaheen Samavati 25:20
Yeah, I mean, I guess there could be different reasons. But I think that a that ultimately it probably comes down to like not being not being the core competency of the company, like, if, because, I mean, as we’ve been talking about throughout the conversation, it really is. I mean, it is a big operation, like to consistently put out content and to have and to design all the steps and all this. And it’s like, if you’re a company that makes widgets, I mean, it’s just totally different. Totally different process. So I think a lot of times people who they I mean, nowadays, everyone is a content creator, I mean, now, it’s so easy to publish, everyone has a blog, every company has a blog. So everyone is putting content out there? Or has social media pages is putting out content somewhere? And yeah, I mean, not everyone, I guess, like the level of knowledge in terms of how to do that varies quite a lot. And it’s, I mean, every company has to decide how much resources they want to put to that how much and whether they want to do like build a team internally and build these processes internally, or, or work with an external supplier, who already has the processes in place.

Kyler Canastra 26:33
Exactly. So a lot of it, I guess, is just knowing like, what your objective is, what your product is, how much editing you need, and then knowing where to put those resources, essentially. So as long as you have those things in line, hopefully, then everyone can get a strong editorial process to always produce quality content, because as we said in the beginning, that’s something that we’re seeing a lot of these days, a lot of low quality content. So hopefully we can maintain those values that we’ve talked about getting that you’ve learned in your journalistic experience and can push that forward. So hopefully one day we’re not losing quality across the board. So

Shaheen Samavati 27:05
yeah, I mean, that’s our kind of mission is to help companies like help great organizations produce great content.

Kyler Canastra 27:12
So on that note, I want to thank you Shaheen, for a very interesting conversation. And even I learned something new after we’d known each other for a long time. But today, I’ve learned a bit more about your background. So it’s very interesting. And I also want to thank everyone for listening in. As always, for more perspectives on global content marketing, make sure to check out very and if you’d like to get in touch with us, or if you have any interesting topic like today’s topic, for an upcoming episode, feel free to reach out to us at And keep tuning to the podcast for more interviews with content experts. We’ll see you next time. Thanks again, Shaheen.

Shaheen Samavati 27:50
Thank you. Thanks, everybody. Bye

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