– My roles: Copywriter + Project Manager –
The St. Clair Inn was almost ready to launch. The grounds were groomed. The rooms were ready. The staff was in place. Their soft opening party approached fast. But they had a problem.
Their beautiful website had no content.
No site content meant no ability to promote the Inn to St. Clair locals or the guests they hoped to attract.
They needed help, and they needed it fast.
I met initially with the Inn’s Executive Director via video call to define the minimum viable product for the site’s content.
Because all the facilities at the Inn wouldn’t be open for the soft launch, the Executive Director felt that the site could get by with a small amount of content for the landing pages.
I encouraged her to think strategically. I convinced her that even though the site seemed huge, it made sense to write blurbs for all the facilities, particularly the restaurants and bars. That way, as the Inn opened in phases, she would have the content when she needed it.
She agreed the approach was to publish the blurbs for each facility but remove the calls to action for the ones that wouldn’t be available by the Inn’s soft launch.
I knew after that initial meeting I would need help. I contracted with a talented UX Writer to help me write the Inn’s story.
We met with the Executive Director to:
- understand the St. Clair Inn brand, including the voice and the tone the Executive Director wanted
- explain our shared approach to plain language
- establish a working agreement for how the Executive Director would get content, provide feedback, and on what turn around time
Even with the short timeline, the UX Writer and I felt at least one round of edits would be necessary. We understood the importance of getting the voice and tone for this copy right.
I suggested, and the UX Writer and the Executive Director agreed, that the simplest method would be to use a shared Dropbox folder and Microsoft Word and Excel because they were tools we were all comfortable with. We would provide copy in Word. The Executive Director would provide comments the same way.
The Executive Director gave us the photos that the Inn’s web firm was still working to get into the site. They would help us get a better sense of the tone she wanted for the copy.
She also gave us credentials for the development version of the site so I and the UX Writer could understand how much space we had for copy.
Dividing the work
I split the site up with the UX Writer based on interest and experience.
The writer chose to write the accommodations descriptions. As an experienced traveler, she felt she knew what would appeal to the guests the Executive Director wanted to attract. The writer also took on the calls to action across the site.
I wanted to write the dining and events content based on my own experiences as a leisure traveler.
I also worked with the Executive Director to create an events request form that would give the Inn’s Event Planner needed information while affirming the Inn’s non-discrimination policies.
Racing the clock
We had less than two weeks to provide the copy for the site.
We had to give the Executive Director enough time to get the copy into the site’s content management system before the Inn’s soft launch party.
I took on the role of project manager. I knew because of the short timeline the project’s success depended heavily on us being organized.
I created a comprehensive tracking sheet in Excel saved to our shared Dropbox folder.
This gave the Executive Director clarity and security. She could see the status of the copy for each section of the site at any time. She could also see if she had any approval tasks due back to us.
We completed the copy in the voice and tone the Executive Director wanted in eight calendar days. The Executive Director had plenty of time work with her web firm.
The St. Clair Inn site was up with content that tells the Inn’s story – from the luxury accommodations to the seven restaurants and the bar to the event options – a full week before the Inn’s scheduled soft launch party.
Praise from the client
It was vital that we have our site up before our soft opening and we were running out of time to get the content done. Anne’s calm, focused approach helped me clarify the tone I wanted for the site and how I wanted to promote the Inn.
Her attention to detail and process reassured me we could get the work done on time. She delivered exactly what I needed, when I needed it, while managing another writer to make sure the content was consistent from section to section. Her work enabled us to have our event as planned and set the mood for the Inn.
– Aimee Lawrence, Executive Director, St. Clair Inn