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Get Your Content Governance in Order With This 1 Thing

It’s time to get your content marketing governance in order.

Now, you might see the word “governance” and think, “We don’t need governance. That’s too big for us. We’re only a handful of people.” Or you might think, “that’s above my pay grade.” You may be right. Many of the changes and authority required to install a good content marketing governance plan may be out of your control.

But that doesn’t permit you to forego any kind of order. Let’s talk about the first, manageable step – creating an editorial board.

Editorial board structure

While the executive leadership team sets the content team’s responsibilities and establishes budgets and governance models, the editorial board is a cross-functional group assembled from the company’s major stakeholders and subject matter experts. The content marketing strategy leader facilitates the board.

This group focuses on the content marketing strategy – helping create an aligned creation approach, deciding a few (or fewer) proactive big ideas, and moving it to a development process. The bigger stories can be repurposed into smaller assets for the various parts of the organization that needs them.

Doing this addresses one of the biggest hurdles to a successful content marketing strategy – striking a balance between the overarching goals and the demands to act as an internal content support organization for the rest of the business (i.e., an on-demand content factory.)

As you can see in this illustration, the content marketing team is supported by roles and responsibilities to execute the projects determined to be priorities by the editorial board.

An image outlining how the executive leadership team recognizes the content team and sets budget/governance.

The content projects then become the responsibility of the content creation execution team, including individuals from any part of the organization, freelancers, or creative agencies.

Responsibilities of the editorial board

The editorial board should meet regularly. Depending on the scale of content marketing in the business, it can be responsible for these outputs:

  • Setting creative priorities, points of view, and thought leadership vision
  • Reviewing measurement of content marketing efforts and deciding on topics or channels based on that analysis
  • Prioritizing and/or setting urgency for content marketing calendar
  • Guiding and/or setting editorial guidelines, tone, or standards
  • Suggesting topics or unique needs for departmental/functional strategies
  • Helping set promotional strategies for larger content initiatives
  • Guiding resourcing/budgeting priorities

The board’s output is a shared editorial production and publishing calendar that balances ad-hoc asset needs from different departments and a proactive and strategic approach to larger content projects.

A working editorial board

We recently worked with an enterprise B2B technology company. The content team struggled to keep their thought leadership blog current and compelling because they had other demands from the product and sales enablement teams who wanted more and more customer success stories and technical how-to articles. The content team had no time or resources to tackle the stated strategy of creating content that evangelized their disruptive approach in the industry.

To address that problem, the company decided to create a more proactive content approach and facilitate it through an editorial board. The content marketing team helped to assemble a cross-functional board made up of marketing, demand generation, enterprise sales, account services, and brand. The board meets twice a month to set the direction and priority of content marketing in the business.

Additionally, the content team assembled external subject matter experts who met every other month with the editorial board to suggest new topics and angles for their thought leadership.

The company decided on a 60-40 balance for content creation resources – proactive content projects that could be repurposed across the business vs. unique assets for individual departments. New ideas and requests that come to the content team are collected until the editorial board meets. Here’s how the content decision and creation process works:

  1. The editorial board prioritizes the new projects and determines which needs can be fulfilled by smaller executions within larger projects (e.g., a customer success story, testimonial, podcast interview, webinar with a customer.)
  2. The board reviews status of existing projects to see if changes need to be addressed.
  3. Editorial projects are executed with a view toward speed, multiple uses, and repackaging opportunities.
  4. The content team updates and shares the editorial calendar with the broader organization.
  5. Measurement is applied based on goals set within the editorial board meetings.
  6. The content team then shares these measurement figures with the editorial board at the next meeting

And the process is repeated.

With this process, content planning and creation are more strategic. Among the benefits:

  • Better scalability: Core editorial topics and ideas are discussed and proposed among teams and brought together in the central editorial board. The cross-functional editorial board synthesizes, packages, and prioritizes content bills of materials (BOM) of assets to be created.
  • More efficient production: Assets move through a production process – and versions created – even if they will not be used for some time. Thus, assets are leveraged more effectively to address multiple purposes.
  • Better findability: The content team doesn’t handle all content creation but does handle all content flow. Assets are managed and published by trained managers (experts) into the CMS and DAM, accounting for metadata, structures, and reuse.

By adopting this editorial board approach, which was done in phases, the B2B tech company transforms its content marketing by scaling a few big content ideas into many iterations and executions at different parts of the journey.

Start small, scale big

Part of this team’s success is attributed to starting small. The content marketing leader had a team of three. Before having the executive support behind it, she started with the demand generation group and implemented an informal sharing meeting. The content team would share their to-do list then align it with what the demand generation team needed, and both teams agreed on the priorities. Then, slowly, representatives from other teams joined the meeting to form the fully realized editorial board. They shifted to more proactive projects vs. the one-demand requests.

Many times, full-scale change management can sound daunting. But mark my words, if your content marketing program is ever going to scale to address multiple parts of the customer experience or to serve more than a tiny fraction of the marketing strategy, governance must be core to your approach.

You don’t have to think of “governance” as “institutionalized processes” or “definition of powers.” Think of it as answering a relatively simple question: How are we going to decide what content we should create, manage, activate, promote, and measure?

And the assembly of an editorial board can be a great step in answering that question.

Hear from Robert Rose and other content marketing leaders this fall at Content Marketing World. Register today for the best rates.

 Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute