San business-writing & design services:
The Massachusetts In stitute of Tech nology, in addition to being a world-famous university, is also one of the largest high-technology research centers, and a major incubator of cutting-edge tech companies that get spun off. (For this reason, they have an extraordinarily high ratio of non-academic to academic staff.) MIT’s Ad ministrative Systems Development (ASD) group, a branch of MIT In formation Systems, is an in-house technical and creative-services organization that helps other R&D or administrative units of the university with their projects.
Despite being (as I discovered) extremely bright people with an excellent range of analytical and writing/editing skills, ASD found it difficult to do for themselves what they routinely do for their own clients — namely, “chunk up” (divide into logical categories) and then clearly describe the range of services they provide. This is not unusual; people are often too immersed in their own business processes to see them the way an outsider (such as a potential customer) would. So they asked me to help.
In many cases, clients want me to provide a complete communications package involving consultation, writing, design, and (often) production — either for print, Web, public speaking, or more arcane media. The client wanted à la carte assistance, which required me to work with them in a very interactive way.In this case, however, ASD already had writers, editors, and production people on staff, and they wanted their own people to handle as much of the job as possible. (In fact they have a Documentation group experienced in precisely this kind of project.) What they wanted from me was à la carte assistance, where I would advise their staff on some parts of the project and provide other components myself — in other words, a very flexible consulting/ production mix tailored to their exact needs. I was flattered that they wanted my help on a kind of project they themselves are expert in, and was happy to work with them in exactly the way they wanted.
Initially the plan was to create a brochure, but we ultimately decided that it would be more flexible to create a custom- designed folder, with coordinated insert sheets printed in staggered sizes (similar to what I’d created for NC RI’s China Project). As the client’s mix of services evolved, they could simply swap out individual inserts as needed rather than redo the whole thing.
Once that was decided, they asked me to read their existing promotional material (there wasn’t much); discuss their operations with them; and, finally, make concrete suggestions on how best to categorize the wide range of services they provide.
In addition, they wanted a series of specific things from me:
It was a kind of mix-and-match approach that I wasn’t used to, but since the project overall was still large enough to be worth my time, I agreed. It was a kind of mix-and-match approach that I wasn’t used to, but it worked out well.(The only caveat was that I had to bill them by the hour, without a real estimate in advance, since I had no idea how much work I’d actually be doing.)
This website is not affiliated with, and this page and its contents have not been endorsed nor sponsored by, the organization whose project is depicted. The only purpose of this page is to describe work I have done. It depicts a past project, and does not represent the client.
Things went smoothly, we all had fun, and they were so happy with the results that they left glowing compliments in my voice mail a few times during the project. However, one brief message just said they were “kvelling” over what I’d done. I had no idea what that meant — it sounded like slang for throwing up on my work, and I figured I was in real trouble! But it turned out to be a Yiddish word meaning “delighted” or “proud.” My kind of clients!