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Charmaine Teoh - Account Director, Editor Group

Charmaine Teoh
'The most rewarding aspect is the variety of work and the trust the clients have in us to produce quality documents that are highly important to them.'







What type of work does Editor Group do?

We are an editorial services company. We do mostly corporate communications work, writing and editing publications such as annual reports, brochures, case studies, media releases, newsletters, speeches and web copy for clients. We also offer writing training and media training.

What do you do in your job?

I joined Editor Group as a writer about six years ago. Since then, I've moved more into managing client accounts. That means taking the brief from the client, either writing the material myself or engaging internal staff or freelancers to do it, and revising the copy based on client feedback. I also look after all the invoices. Basically, I'm the first point of contact for clients.

So you are involved in many aspects of the company's services. How do you balance your different roles?

It's actually not too difficult to balance all the different roles once you get the hang of it. I work with two other team members so if a writing job comes through and I'm not available, I'll ask one of them if they can take it on. It's about managing the team and learning how to delegate to other staff.

Most of us are writers. We have one dedicated editor who manages all the editing and proofreading jobs. If I get something that is more editing than writing, I pass it to the editor, but I am still the contact point for clients if they have any questions or concerns.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

At any one time, I could be managing two or three big projects. For example, I look after an Asia Pacific-wide case study program for a large technology client. It involves writing stories about the benefits a company receives from using our client's service or technology. We have case study programs running for clients in Australia, New Zealand and throughout Asia.

Are there many other companies providing this type of service?

I think we offer a specialised service and that makes us really niche. Our nearest competitors are PR agencies because they do a lot of the same type of work. But what makes us different is our focus on words. We don't do any PR work such as contacting journalists to get a client story into newspapers. We do, however, provide media training, where we help clients improve the way they present themselves in the media.

What qualifications do you have?

I have a communications degree from Macquarie University. My initial training was as a journalist.

What did you do before joining Editor Group?

After I finished uni, I got a job at a market research firm. I spent four years there doing advertising and marketing research for magazines and newspapers. Then I decided I should really make use of my writing skills and look for a writing job. For the next two years, I worked at POL Publications, a custom publishing house. I was an editorial assistant.

That was actually a really good job in terms of learning about publishing. It was an entry-level position, so I did everything from fact checking to organising photo shoots and getting coffee! Sometimes I got the chance to write stories, but mostly it was subediting and learning what was involved in putting together magazines. I worked on the Ansett in-flight magazine until the airline closed down. It was then that I moved to Editor Group.

How did that come about?

I got this job through my old editor at POL. He knew my current boss was looking for a writer so he recommended me. I would have never considered going into a corporate communication job, mostly because I didn't realise positions like this existed. I was hoping to move to another magazine or into book publishing, but my career just took an unexpected left turn and it's worked out really well.

What do you like to do best – writing or editing?

I trained as a writer so I have to say writing. I like editing but my first love is writing.

What do you love about writing?

Writing allows me to speak to people, which is something I really enjoy. I did a lot of profiles when I worked on the Ansett magazine and really liked telling people's stories. Being paid to tell stories is fantastic.

How does the work of Editor Group compare to that of a magazine publisher?

The main difference is that Editor Group doesn't commission work like a magazine or book publisher. We're actually commissioned to do work by the client, so they may approach us about putting together a newsletter, for example. The similarities are in the production process. We write and edit to a brief and we design as well.

What makes a good editor?

In my line of work, it's someone who understands what the client wants to present. A good editor needs to distil the messages clearly and concisely but at the same keep the client's unique tone of voice. We pride ourselves on writing in plain English. Our ability to translate corporate speak into something that is clear, easy to read and understandable is why clients engage our services.

How do jobs for different clients differ?

Some clients are more formal in the way they communicate and others are more laid back. It really depends on what's being communicated. For example, a press release or annual report for a bank would be very different from an internal newsletter that goes out to staff.

What do you like most about your job?

The most rewarding aspect is the variety of work and the trust the clients have in us to produce quality documents that are highly important to them. We do a lot of different types of writing – case studies, annual reports, newsletters and advertising copy – so you're not stuck writing one thing, on one subject over and over. Each day is different. Another thing is getting to meet such interesting people, whether it's the client or their customers. Everyone has an interesting story to tell.

What do you like least?

It would be deadlines. Whether you're working on a magazine, newspaper or book, there are always deadlines and they always creep up on you before you realise it. Sometimes a client may have an urgent job, which they need the next day, so basically you have to drop everything and work on that. But at the same time, I may have two other clients who are also saying the same thing. Juggling deadlines is probably the most challenging part of my job.

What do you wish someone had told you about publishing before you started?

I wish someone had told me that networking is really important. It's a very small industry – everybody knows everybody. Jobs are rarely advertised as it's often about word of mouth and who you know. That's how I found this job.

What advice would you give to a person thinking about a career in publishing and editing?

Look up all the publishing associations and join the Society of Editors in your state. Get out there and meet people, and try to get your foot in the door. It's not a difficult industry to get into but it certainly helps if you know as many people as possible.

Does your job allow you to achieve a work life balance?

My hours are not horrendous, unless I'm on deadline. I probably work from
about 9 am to 6 pm most days.

Do you have any hobbies?

Recently I discovered photography. I love pictures as much as words. I also enjoy cooking and eating.

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