The Ethics Of Commercial Writing

As a freelance writer, you can come into contact with vast amounts of sensitive and confidential information from each client- every organisation has it, and most likely, a writer will need to delve into it. This is a norm, as each client requires their writers to possess the entirety of knowledge necessary to effectively compose material for them, so that the end result is as if it had originated from the organisation itself.
If they didn’t provide a third-party writer with the ‘whole picture’ of information, then the resulting material presented back to them would probably be full of large holes and half-truths, not to mention the fact that, if they decided to use this material, it would appear as if the organisation didn’t even know itself.
So, if the client hires a writer for certain material on a specific job, certain information will be trusted upon the writer for the right use and reasons only. This is where the point lies. Commercial freelance writing means that you are only as good as your reputation, and it takes several tasks, jobs and hard yards to find your legs in the corporate world and be successful. Make sure it is not for the wrong reasons.
Therefore, this article is a gentle reminder to all writers out there that are privy to sensitive information- think of it as a refreshing course on the obvious. Discretion for each client is paramount! If you have details on a product launch coming up, and a competitor hires you, make sure you take appropriate steps depending on the situation, whether that means letting each client know, turning down the second job, or, keeping both items completely separate. The fact of the matter is, only a writer in a particular situation can know what is the best option at the given time, but the key is discretion and integrity. Keep these two values at the top of your mind when conducting business, and you will be better off for it.
People talk- the industry talks. Mentioning something in passing, or even changing the names and giving half-truths can blow up into a situation a freelancer, not to mention the client, doesn’t particularly want. Even the slightest reputation of being an information leak will end up spreading around and then you can sit and watch as your job offers drop off the face of the Earth.
Do yourself, your clients, and the reputation of the industry a favour, and keep all their details to yourself, and forget them once the job is done. Don’t succumb to the human temptation of mentioning details to other clients, especially through your writing. This also includes pitching for work and creating a portfolio: make sure that all items you display are suitable for the public domain, and do not display important trade-secrets, even if the new client is in a completely different field: People talk- the industry talks.
Keep this quick tip in your mind as you write your materials, and you will thank yourself for reading this. In the words of Billy Connolly, “Times May Change, but Standards must remain” and in this situation, there is no exception. Businesses are serious business, and clients expect no less from their trusted writers, so it is important that this is upheld in all we do.

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