Should You Hire An Editor To Review Your Copy?

should you hire editor - everything-pr

In today’s fast-paced environment a lot of material is published before anyone (other than the original author) ever sees it.

Is this a good thing? Are editors still necessary?

While many would argue that the ease of publishing material today has eliminated the need for editors, I would tend to disagree. In my opinion, editors still have a vital role to play in today’s public relations environment. Plus, the lack of an editor usually shows. I can’t even begin to count the number of typos that I’ve noticed on news stories, blog posts, and company websites.

Having worn several hats in this industry (having been both a writer and editor as well as a small business owner myself), I can look at this issue from several angles. From the perspective of a business owner, the need for content, particularly online content, is often immediate. As a result, writers who specialize in online content are usually in a hurry. While that hurry means that the content gets published faster, it also means that a writer is much more likely to make a mistake. Hiring an editor can add cost to a project as well as slow it down. Usually, adding an editor means another person to pay.

For these reasons (and others), companies operating on a low budget may choose to do without an editor.

Speaking as a writer, I know that even in the best of circumstances it is not always easy to catch your own mistakes.

When rereading your own words there’s a natural tendency to see what you think that you wrote rather than what you actually did write. Frankly, I appreciate it when a “different set of eyes” is available to look over my work.

Editors can add the following value to any public relations project:

  • Reduce the number of typographical errors
  • Suggest additions or enhancements to a piece
  • Reword awkward phrases

In addition, an editor may also be able to contribute the following:

  • Check facts
  • Suggest ideas for new content

By the way, lest you be tempted to think that typos aren’t really important consider this – a typo is often the difference between being accurate and being inaccurate. A misplaced decimal, a simple misspelling, or a missing word can totally alter your intended message.

For example, $2000 is entirely different from $20.00. The decimal makes a huge difference in meaning.

What do you think?

Should public relations agencies employ editors?

Do you have an editor review your content before it is published?


  1. Laura Spencer says

    Thanks for your input Matt!

    I’m glad that I’m not the only one seeing the errors in new stories. Of course, sometimes an error is merely annoying. But, as the post points out, there are those times that an error actually changes the meaning of something and that can cost a company money.

    I remember a few months ago a merchant published an ad selling HDTVs for a ridiculously low amount. It turned out that the low amount was a typographical error.

  2. Matt Keegan says

    I fully agree that employing the services of an editor, where affordable, is the way to go.

    We all self edit which means that we’ll pick up the bulk of our mistakes ourselves. However, that effort soon diminishes when speed is a factor – this “I got to publish it now!” phenomenon of the blogosphere means that errors are commonplace.

    For simple, conversational articles errors usually aren’t a problem. For companies who are looking to present a unified voice to the public, particularly their customers, it is critical that they get it right the first time and every time.

    I regularly catch errors in newspapers including in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, highly regarded publications whose staff of editors sometimes miss what is glaringly obvious.

  3. Laura Spencer says

    Good point Tessa!

    I certainly agree in the value of having a “second set of eyes.” If a professional editor is unavailable, a colleague who has good grammar skills may be able to help.

  4. Tessa Carroll says

    While hiring an editor might seem like an expense that can be avoided, it’s extremely important that someone on your staff be able to at least act as an editor. Posting content without having it proofread by someone else is a dangerous game. You run the risk of printing or posting misinformation, or worse, making your company or client look silly or unintelligent. If you can’t afford to hire an editor, ask a coworker to read over your work. A fresh set of eyes, any set of eyes other than your own, can provide valuable insight into your writing.

    Tessa Carroll
    VBP OutSourcing

  5. Laura Spencer says

    Hi Claire!

    I understand that an editor often seems like a luxury, especially in this economy. However, I do think editing a valuable addition to the PR team IF the agency can afford it.

    A little confession – most of the time I don’t get to work an editor either.

  6. Claire Thompson says

    In theory, PR people should be able to write their own copy. But the reality is:
    1. I know from my own blog that publishing in a hurry can leave embarrassing typos
    2. Having managed numerous teams, some are good at writing, some are great on the phone, some are natutals at organising. Very rarely at they good at all of the above without years of practise. (And, of course, some aren’t native English speakers)

    So yes, having an editor on board would be a great luxury to have. But most agencies will settle for a three way proof read before issuing most things.

  7. Mihaela Lica says

    Right on, Claire. We face this problem every day at Everything PR because we do not have an editor and at least two of our authors are not native English speakers. We have plans to hire an editor, but we have to figure out a solution for the time frame – our authors come from Germany, US, Guatemala, Romania… – so many different time zones. For customers we do have editors, and we never release something in their name without careful scrutiny. But when it comes to covering news, sadly we don’t have a solution. These are usually pressured by time… The only solution would be to assign an editor for each time zone!

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