Taking a Strategic Approach to Content Development
Once upon a time, corporate content was limited to annual reports, media releases, newsletters and the occasional publication and training manual. Today, organizations produce content for their private intranet, public websites, blogs, and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. All this while still managing material for print and other traditional media sources.
This is being driven by a growing consumer, client and even internal staff demand for content on mobile, social, web, media and print. There is real pressure and very high expectations for organizations to constantly produce content. Marketing, communications and IT departments, with limited resources, can be easily overwhelmed. It seems in the quest to respond to the ever-increasing content demands of the digital age, many are ill-prepared.
Communicating effectively in the digital era requires a proper alignment between content production goals and institutional support structures. In other words, your organization should have a clearly defined content strategy if it is to create effective content in the digital age.
Why A Content Strategy
A content strategy defines an organization’s approach to the planning, development, and management of all informational content. It covers written, video, audio and other media formats. A content strategy allows your organization to set up a clear, coherent approach to achieving defined corporate communication goals. Unfortunately, not many organizations take the time to think strategically about their content.
A content strategy can help your organization focus on what’s important and help produce relevant, more accurate content and more efficiently. Your content strategy serves as roadmap leading your marketing and communications toward your corporate goals and away from wasted effort. It also helps direct IT and advertising spending and brings focus to internal content creators.
The Business of Content
Regardless of what sector you are in, or what product or service you deliver, when you really think about it, you’re in the business of working with content. Virtually every department within an organization touches content in some way either as an author, reviewer, or user of content.
Content shapes how you run your business, from hiring employees, to training and integrating them, to developing and describing product and services, to selling them to your customers.
Elements of Content Strategy
A strategic approach to content management requires you to consider how and where content is developed; who is responsible; what is required in curating it; how is information architecture determined and implemented; where will it be used; what metrics are to be used to assess effectiveness; and what are the roles and guidelines for writing, editing and promotion.
Too often, content is created by authors working in isolation from other authors within the organization. Walls are erected among content areas and even within content areas, often along departmental boundaries. The challenge is for businesses to mobilize their human capital to meet the content demands of an inter-connected marketplace.
A well thought-out content strategy can help your organization to reduce the inefficiencies as well as the costs of creating, managing, and distributing content. A unified approach to content can also provide organizations with a standardized methodology for identifying content requirements up front, creating consistently structured content for reuse, managing that content in a commonly accessible manner, assembling content on demand to service multiple dissemination channels and assessing its utility against defined goals and targets.
A coherent content strategy is the foundation for providing both internal and external customers with a consistent corporate message. It reduces the chance of organizations contradicting themselves with differing or inaccurate information. It also provides a basis for optimally managing processes and personnel involved in the content development cycle.
Safeguard Your Brand
Any strategy is only as good as the people implementing it. Any gap between content strategy and the organizational capacity to implement it will have to be addressed if organizations are to adopt a corporate culture that supports an enterprise content strategy. This often involves cutting across sensitive organizational boundaries and authority centres. There is no way around this. The organization has to be committed to the greater good of establishing a coherent approach to communications in the digital age. The support of the highest levels of leadership is therefore critical.
Some organizations have taken to creating senior and even executive roles such as the Chief Content Officer, Content Strategist and Enterprise Content Manager. This not only empowers the individual, it sends a powerful message across the organization about the priority of content management to corporate development.
The content demands on organizations are only going to grow as Internet penetration increases and mobile becomes ubiquitous to how consumers access and interact with products and services. Firms that are not adequately prepared to meet the demands of the digital age will ultimately struggle and fail as brand value in the mind of an Internet-connected consumer is increasingly tied to the quality and frequency of the content they are able to access.
Safeguard your organization. Develop a content strategy and implement it like your organization’s brand depends on it. Because the truth is, it does.