Peer review circles may sound like something that only full-time writers need. Regardless of what industry you are in, however, you are expected to engage in some kind of writing. Even if you aren’t a small business owner or don’t do marketing or promotion as your main work activities, you still need to know how to write effectively in order to communicate with a variety of audiences. Being technically correct in your use of spelling and grammar is important and there are many tools available to help in this regard. It is far more important, however, to be correct in your use of industry-specific terms and to communicate effectively with your target audience.
One method you can use to become a better content writer is to start a peer review circle in your workplace or professional network.
What’s A Peer Review Circle?
A peer review circle consists of 3 to 4 professionals who meet periodically to give feedback on each other’s writing. These circles can review a number of different types of writing, including:
- Industry-specific articles (trade or academic)
- Cover letters and resumes
- Powerpoint and slideshow presentations
- Blog posts
- Webpage content
- Brochures and fliers
- Email campaigns
- Technical documentation
- Marketing copy
How Do You Build a Peer Review Circle?
Through networking at your workplace, at conferences, and via professional platforms like LinkedIn, you can find professionals at your level of skill and commitment who are interested in fostering each other’s growth as writers. It is also vital that potential members of your circle are willing to give and receive feedback and to keep submitted materials and feedback on materials confidential.
Additionally, members of a peer review circle must be willing to meet on a regular basis (either in-person or online) to read and discuss submitted materials. At the very least, peer review circles should meet monthly to discuss writing materials. Ideally, members should see at least two versions of written materials to ensure that these meetings are fruitful for all involved.
What’s the Value-Add of a Peer Review Circle?
Those involved with productive peer review circles often find that they receive a high return on their efforts. Circles can help members predict and respond to potential feedback from stakeholders before the stakeholders see written materials. They can also help to refine writing materials so that they effectively reach target audiences. In short, they help members troubleshoot obstacles in helping to promote themselves and their organizations through writing.
Good peer review circles need to be honed and refined, however. As ad hoc groups, they are subject to personality conflicts and differing levels of commitment. Even productive circles may only last for a short time, or experience restructuring as members come and go and as the group learns how to most effectively work together. Like any group, peer review circles often undergo growing pains, particularly when they are being formed.
Even though building a peer review circle and keeping it together takes time, effort and patience, peer review circles offer many benefits that cannot be fully calculated. By reaching out to your fellow industry members and sharing in each other’s problem-solving and promotion efforts, you are helping to develop yourself as a professional and to fully engage with cutting-edge knowledge within your industry.