I predict a good editor is going to be as important as a good IT guy. Sure, you need one now, but I predict within the next five years pretty much any business that wants real success is going to recognize the imperative of having a great editor. Here’s why…

First, let’s get our terms ironed out. I’m not talking about a prehistoric editor from yonder years. The one eternally hunched over a desk, chewing on a pencil. I’m talking about 21st century editors. Smart, digitally savvy types that personify a seamless Venn diagram of marketing, content, PR and journalism with them situated at the center. These types will recognize that to be good in one department, you need to be good in the others. (Conversely, the same holds true as well – but that’s for another day).

Getting back to the point, I was talking about getting our terms straight. Note then when referring to the capacity of an editor above, I included that nifty little word “content.” Content is what we’re calling it now. Please pay attention, those many of you who still do not recognize that a writer and a content writer is essentially the same thing.

Editors nail content. They understand all aspects of content, from strategy (including brand and message), to content research/analysis, content writing, content team management, content management systems, content marketing, and (working with the IT crowd) content ROI (or content metrics/content analysis depending on how you like to phrase it). As I mentioned, a great editor can also wear the other hats: PR, marketing, and journalism.

Now, as far as why you need an editor. I invite you to take a look at any real heavy hitting company. Especially the ones with a strong online presence or audience. Browse through their departments, and you’ll notice something that didn’t exist 5 years ago … and that’s an entire content team. You’ve got content directors, content managers, content writers and content specialists. In some cases, you might even have additional personnel sprinkled across communications and media. All these people are SOME sort of editors. Some have bigger editor hats, some have smaller ones.

Companies are realizing that content is how you rope people in. They’re realizing that you can’t just say what you want. You have to have an integrated plan. This is where the editor (or content director, content manager) comes in.

So what exactly does an editor do? Atlantic writer Alex C. Madrigal surmised it best. According to him, when you’re a digital editor, “You are in charge of writing some stuff, commissioning some stuff, editing some stuff. Maybe you have an official traffic goal, or (more likely), you want to be awesome, qualitatively and quantitatively. A lot of people in this business are driven from the inside out, and you almost have to be given the daily demands. You have to want to be jacked into the Internet all day long, every day.” Well said, Alex.