I’ve found myself talking about editorial boards more often recently in relation to content marketing programmes.
This past week I was struck by how well one would-be client was employing this approach, something I’d advise most organisations to consider, whether big or small. (Note, I write ‘organisation’ because this example wasn’t a company but a government department some of my peers might assume doesn’t understand content marketing.)
I have set up and benefited from editorial boards on several media titles in the past but I think in terms of content marketing it differs in one major way.
Publications going back hundreds of years have had what some today would call brains trusts – advisors, formal or informal, who help the publication become better, usually by informing decisions on serving audiences well.
I’ve also chosen editorial board members for their commercial nous but in general they are a cross-section of those you trust, with diversity critical. Sameness isn’t what you’re after.
Editorial boards are usually chaired by a publication’s editor and this can work in content marketing, though I’d argue it is more likely to be someone senior in-house in marketing who isn’t an editor-in-chief (EIC) or chief content officer (CCO). The chair would rarely be someone from an outside agency.
But whereas most media editorial boards are about general improvement in product, companies’ editorial boards are that and also about decision-making.
One of the hardest aspects of creating content is working in a culture that is more marketing than content. What do I mean by that? The world of content, as it was overwhelmingly represented for some time by media, has mostly been a very process-driven, fast-turnaround culture.
A lot of marketing – certainly not all, I know – tends to take longer, with more rounds of sign-offs and amends. More stakeholders, too.
What we’re finding is that good editorial boards in content marketing are also a place to define who the key decision-maker is.
Usually few decisions on pieces of content take place in this environment. It’s too tactical. But when push comes to shove, usually in an organisation without an internal head of content / EIC / CCO (delete as appropriate), then someone should be able to cast the deciding vote.
Content needs to be central to organisations. And someone very senior from the organisation who is responsible, ultimately, should chair the editorial board.
*photo credit: clagnut via photopin cc
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