If your content team is not producing the right content on the right schedule, you may have a content strategy problem. Read on for five content strategy issues that your content producers may be experiencing.
I need to follow my boss’ orders.
As Leibtag (2012) describes, people within an organization are generally focused on following the direction of their direct manager. This happens because the direct manager is responsible for the staffer’s performance reviews and raises. The manager also dictates the tone of the work environment. A demanding, self-oriented boss, for example, can make her direct reports feel that they have to follow her agenda without asking questions. If this puts the content creator in the position of having to choose between the manager’s priorities and the organization’s, then it potentially breaks the designed content workflow.
The content strategist needs to earn the support of the organization’s top-level decision-makers. To get this support, the strategist must approach the executive team with a defined plan that shows the ROI of effective content strategy. The strategist should establish the importance of holding all managers at each level accountable for supporting their part of the content strategy. If there are defined consequences for not doing so, then the priorities should be aligned and the content creator feel pressured to choose between the strategy and the boss. Content creators should also have the opportunity to communicate any conflicting priorities to someone besides the direct manager.
I can’t get the time I need with the subject matter experts.
Hillary Marsh (2013) and Leibtag (2012) both discuss the problem of communication silos in the workplace. A silo structure in the workplace makes collaboration across departments very difficult. This impacts content strategy in the same way that conflicting priorities impact content strategy: it breaks the designed content workflow.
Identify where the communication breakdowns are happening and create a cross-functional team to address it. Holding managers accountable, as recommended in Challenge #1 above, will encourage them to make team members available as needed to support the content strategy.
I can’t do what you’re asking me to do.
Too many organizations have people in roles that do not match their skillset. This can happen because people are hired for the wrong reasons or because the role changed over time. The content strategist can design a functional workflow system, but if that system doesn’t consider individual competencies of team members, it will likely fail. Weston (2013) alludes to this when he says, “Content strategists should make it a point to meet both opinion makers and junior level people to define their position in a collaborative way.”
The strategist needs to pay close attention to the role players in the content workflow. If the strategist is involved in workflow creation, then he should involve key managers in that process. Those managers should be surveyed on the skill levels and competencies of their team members. Skill gaps need to be identified and addressed, either through additional hires or training. In the same way that content needs to be reassessed periodically over time, team skills should also be reassessed and shored up regularly.
The design is too limiting.
If there is a conflict between the organization’s style guide and the design of the webpage where the content will be published, the content creator is in a position of failure. The voice and tone guidelines for a given content type may dictate the use of short sentences, headings and bullet points, for example. But then the actual webpage may be designed with an enormous white space that is large enough for Book 1 of Paradise Lost. This situation happens when an organization has a silo structure, when key role players don’t know how their decisions impact others, or when the workflow is flawed.
The content strategist needs to determine what is causing the communication breakdown. If the workflow does not consider the need for the SEO team’s input prior to finalizing page mockups, then the workflow needs to be adjusted. If communication silos are the root cause, then the strategist needs management support to foster collaboration. If the problem is that someone didn’t think to ask another team member for input, then that suggests a workflow design flaw as well. This can be addressed by educating everyone on the process.
I didn’t know what you wanted.
Content creators can miss the mark if they don’t have clear instruction on the project. Lack of clear instruction can also foster inefficiency and frustration among team members. This problem can arise because of differing priorities within the organization, because content requestors are not properly trained, or because content requestors don’t have the tools they need.
The content strategist needs to look at who is requesting the content and how it is being requested. Potentially, the content requestors need training on what type of content the organization needs, or how to be specific when requesting content. Or, in organizations that produce the same types of content over and over again, this problem could be fixed by designing a request form that gathers key pieces of information that the creator needs to complete the project.