When you first plunge into content marketing, you’re probably focused on setting the overarching strategy and getting this new effort up and running. This is not easy to do for most brands, but it’s a process that most marketing departments are accustomed to – significant strategic discussions and decision-making, and then implementation of a campaign. But content marketing is no campaign; campaigns end, and an effective content strategy doesn’t. To successfully implement a content strategy, you need to figure out how to handle the day-to-day work of content creation. And that means you need to hire somebody.
You might think the duties of running your content team day-in, day-out can easily be handled by your existing team. If you’re starting slowly, that could be true. However, true game changers require someone at the helm, every day, all day. To do what, you ask? I’m glad you did.
Most brands don’t quite understand the inner workings of a newsroom. Newsrooms can be chaotic and inefficient – content creation is typically not a straight-line process. Without hands-on management, it can quickly devolve into a Rube Goldberg apparatus… lots of moving parts with nothing produced.
In an effort to help you prevent that and to provide some understanding of why you need an Editor-in-Chief (or whatever you want to call the position) to manage content creation at your organization, here are the nine things that need to be done on a daily basis to manage content. Consider this a job description for the person running your content marketing effort:
Generating story ideas. Nope, they don’t just fall out of the sky. If your content team is worth its salt, it will be generating plenty of ideas, but it must be the ultimate responsibility of the Editor-in-Chief. This requires someone with a nose for news that is constantly looking ahead to the next story, asking questions and thinking laterally about multiple topics.
Assigning stories to content creators. This requires an understanding of the talent available, who’s working on what and when they’re doing it. It requires an understanding of the best person to tell the story and the best method for telling the story – should it be assigned to a writer or a video producer?
Developing story briefs for content creators. This can include word count, deadline, voice and writing style, as well as the fee when working with freelancers. These individual briefs should align with the organizational editorial brief; this alignment ensures a consistent voice in line with the brand identity of the organization. Without specific briefs, there is a risk of losing editorial consistency, which can create audience confusion – the death knell for a content effort.
Managing writing staff and freelance feature writers. As mentioned above, the creative process is not a straight line. Things happen, freelancers miss deadlines, sources go AWOL. It’s the job of the EIC to juggle all this uncertainty and make sure gaps get plugged and the audience gets served.
Editing and rewriting. Submitted work is not necessarily completed work. While it would be fabulous if all content was submitted in pristine condition, that is simply not going to happen. Some articles only need a light edit and some grammatical fixes. Some need heavier editing. Some miss the point entirely and need to be returned to the writer to be completely reworked. The EIC’s job is to safeguard quality and consistency… even when it means hurting feelings.
Overseeing artwork and design. The design aspect of content presentation has become vitally important. The way in which content is presented and supported by visuals goes a long way towards conveying the personality of a brand. And content without personality will surely get lost on the Internet. This may include sourcing images, managing freelance or on-staff designers and hiring photographers.
Managing budgets, particularly for freelancers and outside vendors. Sorry, English majors – you’re going to have to do some math. It is particularly important to stay within budget parameters early in the life of a content strategy, because you’ll be trying to prove the worthiness of this new approach to the C-suite.
Assisting others to meet deadlines. The EIC is the often the person tasked with pulling it all together, to fill in gaps and to help a struggling writer find the right words. She must pick up pieces when something goes awry. This is similar to any leadership position – the ultimate success is the EIC’s responsibility, and therefore the EIC is responsible for everything.
Ensuring optimal distribution of content. Unlike a traditional editorial newsroom, the EIC for a content marketing effort must be committed to distribution. In this age of personalization, content creation must be done with an eye towards how the content will be consumed y the audience. Therefore, the EIC should be managing the creation process with social media, SEO and other distribution strategies in mind.
You’re right, this is a lot of work, particularly when you factor in the human element and the need to manage creative personalities. It is not an easy job, but it is a critical one, and finding the right person for the post is the first step to creating breakthrough marketing.
Content Marketing: 9 Things Your Editor-in-Chief Does Every Day