The Subject Matter Expert (SME) Content Paradox and Pulling Teeth

When it comes to creating quality content assets for high-tech companies at scale, we have noticed the following paradox in the marketplace:

  • Writers know how to write but they don’t have hands-on, intimate knowledge of the technology.
  • The SME live and breathe the technology, but they don’t know how to effectively and engagingly write about it.

Of course there are exceptional individuals who are both knowledgeable and good writers but, let’s face it, they are few and far between—and, if you find one, worth his weight in gold.
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When Google Isn’t Enough: How to Pull Amazing Content Out of Tech Experts

By Talia Klein-Perez
IOD Expert Writer and Editor
Between you and me, I don’t know everything about everything. That might surprise you, because I write about everything to do with everything.
Therein lies the problem: Sometimes I have to write a high level, comprehensive, and comprehensible piece about something I know next to nothing about.
This isn’t always a serious obstacle, since many things can be learned through Google. But when writing a high level, complex piece of work for a hi-tech company, Google isn’t enough.
When I have to write about a niche technical enterprise such as AWS database migration, I often encounter many unfamiliar concepts. Before I can create engaging content, I need to fully understand the topic from the inside out. This can be near impossible when the topic is very technical and advanced and I have a deadline to meet! The client rarely has time to give me an intensive explanation, and I don’t have weeks to spend Googling concept after concept.
Enter the tech expert, a great model for tech content writing I’ve benefitted from since working as a writer for IOD. The tech expert is already familiar with the client’s industry, so it doesn’t take long for him to come up to speed on the specifics. He’s not able to write the document himself, but he is able to “translate” technical jargon into my kind of English so I can understand the issues properly.
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