According to Kapost, marketing organizations that have invested in best-in-class content operations enjoy 5x greater revenue contribution than laggers.
If carefully planned and efficiently produced, your marketing content should win the popularity award at your company. However, simply populating a content calendar and spreading the good word won’t lead to a fully functioning content operation. What separates functioning like a publisher from a stagnant Excel document is the structured process, cross-functional team and feedback loop in place to support the calendar – often called “workflow and governance” by content strategy aficionados.
Get key players from across the company involved, including marketing, sales, product development and business leadership to give them a voice and a stake in the content creation game. And if agency partners or other third parties are creating and/or deploying content, loop them in, too. When all are actively involved, activities across departments, functions and agency partners are integrated, allowing for a clearly laid out content development and review process tied to business goals.
Once you’ve rallied the team, it’s time to implement a structured, circular workflow. It’s the key to how publishers are able to create and distribute high volumes of content.
Typically, the workflow starts with a cross-functional brainstorm and intake session. A pre-work survey or a short questionnaire getting at the heart of priorities and needs for the coming quarter can be an effective way to prepare prior the brainstorm. The brainstorm’s purpose is to gather ideas for content topics and types, based in the coming quarter’s priorities. From there, the ideas are prioritized and strategically mapped onto the content calendar by the editorial board (defined in the “governance” section). The populated calendar is distributed amongst the cross-functional team to keep everyone aligned on deadlines, at which point everyone can begin executing against it. The final step, before the circular workflow begins again, is to measure content efforts so you’re able to optimize the next go around.
You might be thinking, “That all sounds great, Sigrid, but how does the team know what to do and what role to play?” While the answer will need to be customized to your company, there are six essential roles to fill on your publishing team (this is what we in the content world call “governance”).
- Editor and chief: The content calendar owner and overall leader! Your editor and chief needs to be internal and have open communication lines across department functions. We typically recommend a marketing communications leader, often our contact within clients’ companies. The editor and chief facilitates cross-functional brainstorms to gather content ideas, approves new additions to the calendar and serves as final content editor. It’s also this person’s responsibility to hold everyone accountable to deadlines.
- Content strategists: These peeps generate topic ideas based on business objectives and audience. They develop the framework for how content should look, feel and sound by setting guidelines for style, tone and voice, as well as establishing a style guide and a structure for editorial procedures. They also oversee content development.
As an agency specializing in content strategy with roots in storytelling, we like to perform this duty.Whomever takes it on, however, needs to be well versed in your company/brand, understand how your target audiences consume content and be able to see big picture business strategy to align the content calendar accordingly.
- Content creators: Just as the name connotes, content creators create content – write, record, snap, script and design. Seems straightforward enough! But they don’t get free reign of the creative world (womp, womp). Content still needs to adhere to guidelines, and it’s their responsibility to ensure it meets style, audience and SEO standards. They also typically get the honor of measuring content success.We recommend including people from the internal marcomm team, company subject matter experts and your agency partners to tag-team creation.
- Subject matter experts: Speaking of subject matter experts, they play a crucial role. Not only do they create content, they collaborate with the editor and strategists on planning and prioritization, and provide technical expertise. Editing content for accuracy is also an extremely important function within their scope.Beyond engineers, clinicians and/or product managers, don’t forget about your sales team. They work with customers every day and hear about their pain points. They might also be your customers’ go-to resource for content, so keep them in mind when determining deployment tactics.
- Advisory council: Here is where executive leadership comes in. Because it’s ultimately their responsibility if the business succeeds and meets its objectives, they need the opportunity to weigh in on content activities and decisions. They should also review the calendar to stay informed.
- Editorial board: The editorial board should be a cross-functional team with a representative from each of the aforementioned internal and external teams. They attend and contribute to brainstorms and help prioritize activities based on overall business objectives. It’s another avenue to keep all parties informed and working together.
Functioning like a publisher won’t happen overnight. But it’s well worth it when people are held accountable to the process when everything else gets crazy, and not to mention it’ll maximize the ROI of your content.
Go ahead, give it a try! And if you have additional questions on how a workflow or governance structure might look for your team, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org