Agile content marketing’s need for speed

Agile content marketing’s need for speed

February 9, 2015


February 9, 2015


Agile content marketing’s need for speed


Aled Herbert
Content director

Aled oversees all editorial as our content director. He loves a good story – which is no surprise, as he started out in children’s publishing.

Something we hear a lot is about ‘brand newsrooms‘ as brands increasingly make the shift to become publishers in their own right.

The reality is that very few brands can walk the walk on that front. Just appointing a head of content doesn’t automatically create the culture of content and the kind of editorial production processes needed to plan, create, publish and distribute media-grade brand content.

Agile dog jumpingThere are often many reasons for this but if we had to pick a big one it’s the lack of speed. It’s the one thing that can derail even the best-planned content programme.

We live in a world of hyper consumption when it comes to content. Blogs, videos, social media and seemingly a live blog for anything and everything keep us glued to our (many) screens.

When a business decides to enter the publishing fray with a content marketing programme then that need to feed the beast comes as a shock to many marketers more used to multiple (and often competing) internal stakeholders, long-winded sign-off procedures and an underlying fear of putting the company’s name to anything that isn’t shackled to corporate messaging and marketing campaigns.

These delays can result in long gaps between new content being published and some content being out of date, particularly if it was created around a time-sensitive industry event or breaking news. That leads to hard-earned readers and target audience drifting away and also a potential negative interaction with the brand.

Decades’ worth of editorial and newsroom experience tells us a newsdesk might typically have to turn around dozens of new articles per day – at the web’s mega-publishers, the number is now in the hundreds. And that’s all done while maintaining a high quality threshold and the necessary fact checking to ensure you don’t get sued. (Not always the case at the web’s mega-publishers.)

That’s the mindset that brand publishers need to bring to the game – even if they won’t be creating anywhere near that volume of new content. Here are our three tips for speeding up the sign-off and publishing process and preventing the bottlenecks that could kill your content marketing goals.

1. Have a clear single decision-maker
Ideally with the authority to make the sign-off call on any given piece of content and the authority to give any other internal stakeholders clear guidance and deadlines for any final feedback on content. Clearly there are often internal engagement issues at any company but this role needs a firm hand. Now is not the time for two weeks of track changes and comments from half a dozen people.

2. Have an editorial calendar – and stick to it
We’ve covered in a previous post about the many good reasons for having an editorial calendar. This in itself can be used as a stick to keep people on track when it comes to signing off and publishing content. If you know that the culture of your organisation means lengthy sign-off delays are unavoidable then build this into the calendar. For example, if content is planned around a big industry conference or event later in the year then make sure enough sign-off time is built into the calendar that it will be ready to publish as the event happens and not a month later when no-one is interested.

3. Work towards building a culture of content
We recently talked about the content marketing maturity model and that a lot of companies are still at the ‘stretch’ and ‘walk’ stages. Working towards creating a culture of content within the organisation will reap benefits if the company is serious about content marketing. That means investing in people and processes, enabling the content creators to do what they do best and getting senior buy-in. That won’t happen overnight but it is achievable and it will be worth it.

4. Be realistic – sometimes you’ll make the wrong call
Traditional publishers know this. Not only can they generate high-quality content at speed but they get over mistakes quickly. Better to publish 100 pieces in a week and make a mistake with one than publish 10 perfect articles that don’t move the needle. Have this mindset from the beginning. It’s not about tolerating poor content but about liberating your team and being able to experiment. More on this soon.

What do you think? In a world where marketers increasingly talk about ‘real time’ and ‘brand newsrooms’, even ‘war rooms’ around certain events, is your organisation agile with its content?

* photo credit: DSC02666 via photopin (license)